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Liability for personal injuries

Liability determines who has legal responsibility for a personal injury accident. Proof of liability will be needed to receive any damages.

Ahmed O Khalil | Aug 13, 2019

Dog Bites Fall under Strict Liability in California

Preventative Measures for Dog Owners So what can a dog owner do to protect themselves? While there are no steadfast rules to protecting yourself from dog bite claims, we have found that the following list of proactive steps should be taken by all dog owners: 1) Keep your dog on a leash 2) Make sure that your backyard fencing and gates are of a proper height. 3) Do not allow others to pet your dog if your dog displays any signs of frustration, aggression or irritation. 4) Study your dog’s moods and learn why or when they may bite. 5) Always supervise your dog 6) Get regular checkups for your dog with a veterinarian. 7) Hire a professional to train your dog Preventative Measures for Dog Lovers If, like us, you are a dog lover. There are various ways that you can reduce the risk that you will be bitten by a dog. A good list of preventive measures is below: 1) Always ask the dog’s owner before approaching or petting the dog 2) Approach dogs slowly and calmly 3) Allow the dog to sniff your hand and become familiar with you. 4) Do not approach a stray dog 5) Do not run away from a dog. 6) Do not make loud noises around a dog. 7) Do not play with a dog in an aggressive manner. 8) Avoid direct eye contact with the dog. 9) Avoid panicking if the dog is overly excited or aggressive What do I do if I am bitten by a dog? California Civil Code Section 3342 states that “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” As you can see, the strict liability guidelines make virtually any dog bite compensable under California law. For this reason, serious precautions should be taken by dog owners, dog lovers and everyday residents alike. If you are bitten by a dog, seek medical care immediately. Like other personal injury claims, medical care is of paramount importance. Once your injuries are stable, make sure to keep a log of exactly hat happened, where it happened, whether or not anyone witnessed the incident, photos and video of the location of the incident and your injuries, etc. Thereafter, we always recommend that you contact a personal injury lawyer for further information regarding your rights and responsibilities.

Joseph Maya | Aug 1, 2019

Vicarious Liability and Negligence: What You Should Know

When You Loan Your Car to a Bad Driver If you loan your car to someone who you know is an unsafe driver, you may be liable for any accident that person may cause. In many states, both the owner and the driver of a vehicle can be named in a lawsuit under a theory of “vicarious liability.” Even in the absence of “owner’s liability” statutes, the common law theory of “negligent entrustment” can make you liable for any injuries caused by a bad driver you trusted with your car. Under the Family Car Doctrine, for example, parents will be held liable for damage caused by a minor driving the vehicle, even if the minor household member isn’t listed on the automobile insurance policy. For this reason, parents should be cautious when allowing teens to drive and make sure they are mature enough to handle such a responsibility. When You Hire Someone to Drive a Company Vehicle Likewise, under general negligence theories of vicarious liability and “respondeat superior” (“let the master answer”), employers may be liable, along with their employees, for accidents caused by their employees while operating company vehicles. This type of vicarious liability is generally limited to automobile accidents that occur during the course of employment, and doesn’t apply if the employee was using the vehicle for errands outside of work or for personal reasons. For example, if an employee gets into an accident while he is driving to a client’s office to drop off some paperwork, the employer may be liable since the accident occurred during the scope of employment. In that situation, the employee was using the car for business. However, if the employee instead decides to go on a 2 hour unauthorized trip to the mall and gets into an accident during that time, the employer will likely not be held liable because the employee was using the car for purely personal reasons. Here, the employee was not acting within the scope of employment. When You Manufacture or Construct a Bad Road In a roundabout way, the law permits two other circumstances for vicarious or remote liability. One involves an accident caused by a defective vehicle. In such cases, a “product liability” lawsuit against the manufacturer may be appropriate. In addition, several state laws permit suits against state highway officers and departments in connection with the negligent construction or repair of highways, streets, bridges, and overpasses that may have proximately caused an accident.

Jaime Enrique Suarez | Jul 2, 2019

Liability in Carsharing Accidents

Introduction The “sharing economy” generates a new form of economic activity through digital platforms, allowing people to create and share goods and services with one another. Representative of a generational shift in consumer values and purchasing preferences, the sharing economy is diverse, and continues to grow every day with different types of online applications that provide goods, services, rides, vacation stays, money, clothes, and more to consumers in ways previously unimagined. The term “sharing economy” or “sharing businesses” was first used with respect to businesses that facilitated peer-to-peer sharing of tangible goods or real property. The definitive example of a sharing business focused on physical goods is Airbnb, which helps consumers rent out their homes to travelers. Over time, the sharing economy category has come to include companies that share a combination of labor and property, or labor only. The ride-sharing company, Uber, shares both labor and property–a car owner contributes both his physical property (a car) and his time to drive customers to their destination. Other labor-based sharing services, such as Zaarly and TaskRabbit, offer services on demand, such as furniture assembly, cleaning, shopping, and moving services. The distinction between property sharing and service sharing can be somewhat vague. For instance, some labor is involved in sharing property (e.g., cleaning or packaging the property between transactions). However, property sharing companies are businesses that rent access to real property or a tangible good. The labor associated with a rental service is incidental to the property and primarily consists of transferring possession of the property to the customer. The customer exercises control over the property while rented. Turo and Getaround are the latest entries into the property sharing economy. Think of it as an “Airbnb for cars”. Unlike Uber or Lyft, which are “ride-sharing”, car sharing companies such as Getaround and Turo offer to rent you someone’s car. The car owners place their vehicle for rent by the hour or by the day or week on the car sharing company app. You may ask yourself why anyone would rent their car to a complete stranger. The answer is obviously financial as it provides additional income to users of the App. Turo Car Accidents Turo was established in San Francisco in 2010. It was formerly known as RelayRides. It has more than 200 employees. Turo is generally accepted as the leading carsharing company in the world with more than 4 million registered users and in excess of 170,000 available cars for rent. Turo does not own any vehicles so all the available cars are privately owned. Turo operates widely throughout the US as well as in Germany, the UK and Canada. When a Turo vehicle is involved in an accident, the insurance situation is basically the same as other carsharing companies like Getaround. Since Turo is not an insurance company and does not insure Hosts or Guests. However, Turo does make Protection Plans available to US Hosts and US Guests. The Liberty Mutual Policy insures Hosts against liability to thirdparties for bodily injury and property damage resulting from the use of the reserved car during the reservation, up to a combined single limit of $1,000,000. The Liberty Mutual Policy provides the minimum amount of PIP coverage allowed by law in those few states where PIP coverage is required by law and cannot be waived. An injured person may have $1M in coverage available but since uninsured benefits are not required in Florida, Turo does not provide UM coverage. NOTE: Many private passenger automobile insurance policies exclude coverage for peer to peer car sharing, meaning that the Host’s policy likely does not insure the vehicle during the reservation period (including the delivery). Some policies may, however, still provide coverage and Hosts should talk to their own insurance company or advisor about the applicability of their own insurance. Getaround Car Accidents In 2009, Getaround was founded in San Francisco. It was launched at the TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011. It began in Portland Oregon with the assistance of a Federal Highway Administration grant of more than $1.7 billion. As recently as April 2019, Getaround bought the carsharing company Drivy for approximately $300 million. It operates in Washington DC, Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, New Jersey, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and South Florida including Miami. Getaround provides $1 million in liability coverage for third party accidents. This means that if a Getaround renter causes an accident and someone is injured, then there will likely be $1Million in available insurance to pay for the damages and injuries of the injured person.

Jaime Enrique Suarez | May 2, 2019

Airbnb and Premises Liability in Florida: What You Need to Know

Liability of Homeowners under Florida Law Under Florida law, homeowners and other property owners are assigned different degrees of liability according to the injured person’s status on the property. Visitors are classified as invitees, licensees or trespassers. Florida homeowners have a responsibility toward the general safety of any person who enters their property. The property must be maintained so that it is reasonably safe for a visitor. A homeowner is required to not only inspect for potential hazards but also to repair any known dangers around their property, whether it is cluttered walkways, broken stairs or nonfunctioning lights. Such unsafe conditions have the potential to cause injury to anyone visiting their home. If a homeowner is unable to have the repair performed immediately for some reason, they must post warning signs so that visitors are aware of the dangerous condition. Airbnb Offers Host Protection Service Most homeowner insurance policies don’t cover claims if a property owner is using their home for commercial purposes, which is why Airbnb offers Host Protection Insurance. The Host Protection Insurance Program (“HPI Program”) covers hosts, in certain countries, if they have legal liability for bodily injury or property damage to guests, or others, as a result of an event that happens during a guest’s stay at a covered accommodation. The program is issued by LLoyd’s of London and Zurich Insurance PLC and protects against liability claims up to $1 million USD. However, as you may expect, not every incident is covered under Airbnb’s host protection program. The HPI Program excludes: • Aircraft, Auto, and Mobile Equipment – injury or damage connected in any way to aircraft, autos, and mobile equipment, except where these are listed on Airbnb and being used as Accommodations. To be an Accommodation, the Aircraft, Auto, or Mobile equipment must be parked. • Assault and Battery – any loss or expense caused by, arising out of, or resulting directly or indirectly, in any way from assault and/or battery of any person committed by or alleged to have been committed by any insured. • Chinese Drywall – injury or damage arising from, or connected in any way to drywall, plasterboard, sheetrock, gypsum board, or any materials used in the manufacture of drywall used in the construction of interior walls, that were manufactured in, originated from, or exported from China or incorporated any component parts or materials made in, originated from, or exported from China. • Communicable Disease – any loss or damage arising out of the actual or alleged transmission of a communicable disease. • Contractual liability – liability for injury or damage where the insured is obligated to pay damages they have assumed in a contract or agreement. This exclusion doesn’t include legal liability the insured would have without a contract or agreement. • Cross Suits – any claims brought by one insured against another.

Jaime Enrique Suarez | May 2, 2019

Proving Liability in Rear End Collision Accidents

Proving Liability In order to prove liability in a personal injury case, a victim must prove that the at-fault individual acted negligently. Negligence is any behavior that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, which is the care that a reasonably careful person would use under like circumstances. When an action arises from a rear-end collision, there is usually a presumption that the rear driver is negligent. The general rule is that a rear-end collision with a vehicle that is stopped or is in process of stopping creates a prima facie case of liability with respect to the driver of the following vehicle. The following driver is required to rebut the inference of negligence by giving a non-negligent excuse for the accident. In order to establish negligence in a rear-end collision case, there must be a breach of the duty of care. Generally, where other vehicles are able to stop behind the lead vehicle, the driver of the last vehicle that precipitates the chain reaction collision has breached the duty of care and is negligent. In a rear- end collision case, it must be established that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. Causation is often disputed. In cases where the rear-end collision involves more than two vehicles, causation is an issue that can become complicated. The final element to be established in a rear-end collision action is damages. In many cases, the defendant will admit to liability but will claim that he or she did not cause the plaintiff’s damages. The defendant may also assert that the plaintiff’s injuries are not of the nature or extent claimed. Location of Accident Rear-end car accidents collisions are extremely common in Florida. Some occur at intersections and any more occur on the highways. Some of the worst types of accidents involve sometimes tens of vehicles at a time. And, of course, there are rear-end collisions in parking lots of shopping centers. The site of the accident can play a major role in the way in which we approach and prepare for the case. If the collision occurred at an intersection, the presence or absence of traffic signs and signals, or their malfunctioning if present, may present special problems of proof. The lead driver’s conduct at the intersection may also affect the handling of the case: Was he making a right or left turn? Did he make a sudden stop upon realizing belatedly that he had reached an intersection? Did he make one or more false starts after coming to a stop? Among the factors distinguishing the collision on the city street from that of the open road is the pivotal one of tighter speed restrictions in the former. The issues of whether the following driver was keeping a proper lookout, or whether he was following too closely, take on a different complexion in the context of a congested city street. Circumstances Under Which Accident Occurred The location of the collision is only part of the total picture. Also, of great importance are the circumstances under which the accident occurred. Rear-end collisions can take place even though the struck vehicle was traveling at normal speed. They can occur when the struck vehicle has slowed or come to a stop, or when it is merely parked in a private lot. They can also occur as a result of an overtaking maneuver. This might happen where the striking vehicle moves into the left lane and, being forced by on-coming traffic to retreat before completing the attempted passing, hits the rear of the preceding vehicle. Or it may happen after the overtaking operation has been successfully carried out, when the passing vehicle cuts back in with too little clearance and thereby becomes the struck vehicle. Similar to this last example is the simple lane change made with poor judgment as to the available clearance. If the struck vehicle was hit after slowing or stopping, the attorney would want to know whether the change in speed was or was not accompanied by a proper signal. If the change was unsignaled, it can be important to know whether an emergency situation existed to compel the otherwise negligent move. If a passing or an attempted passing was involved in the accident, counsel should ascertain whether the overtaken vehicle remained at a constant rate of speed or whether it accelerated during the time in which the overtaking vehicle was in the lane for oncoming traffic. And, of course, one would be interested in knowing what sort of view the overtaking motorist had of the roadway ahead, and how close the oncoming vehicles were, at the time the pass or attempted pass was begun.

Jaime Enrique Suarez | May 2, 2019

Guide on Comparative Negligence in Florida

How is Negligence Defined in Florida? To establish negligence in Florida, a plaintiff must show that: (1) the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff; (2) the defendant breached the duty; (3) the breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and (4) as a result the plaintiff suffered damages. A duty is the obligation to protect another against unreasonable risk of injury. A duty is breached when the defendant fails to meet such obligation. There are 2 types of causation, which is a close causal connection between the action and the injury. Damages to the plaintiff are the loss suffered. How Does Comparitive Negligence Work in Florida? In Florida, law recognizes that every person has a duty to exercise due care for his own safety. Inherent in the duty of every person to exercise due care for his own safety is the essential element that the person knows and appreciate the probable consequences of his action or inaction. In other words, a person may be comparatively negligent if he should have known of the injurious consequences of his actions or inaction. Thus, the question is one of foreseeability. In Florida, courts examine foreseeability in the framework of comparative negligence as follows: Foreseeable consequences are those which a person by prudent human foresight can be expected to anticipate as likely to result from an act, because they happen so frequently from the commission of such act that in the field of human experience they may be expected to happen again. Although the actual harm that results may be seen as not foreseeable, it is not necessary that the tortfeasor be able to foresee the exact nature and extent of the injuries in the precise manner in which they occur; rather, all that is necessary is that the tortfeasor be able to foresee some injury as likely to result in some manner as a consequence of his negligence. When deciding the issue whether an individual has exercised due care for his own safety, his physical characteristics and all of the surrounding circumstances should be considered.

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