Ms. Miriam Thornton has joined our firm as an Associate Attorney, having graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in 2012 with Honors. This followed her successful completion of her course study at Florida State University and Oxford University. Graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2009, Ms. Thornton left F.S.U., and traveled to Oxford University — the oldest university in the English speaking world and a university that has educated world leaders for over 800 years. Ms. Thornton completed her legal studies at Oxford in August 2010, and returned to Tallahassee for law school. Ms. Thornton brings experience in personal injury law to Myers & Associates, and all of us look forward to our mutual success. Welcome Miriam!!
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!
We’ve been nominated for a Tally Award, and we’re excited about it! It’s a people’s choice award for businesses in Tallahassee, and we’d appreciate your voting. The category winners get a fun-filled, all expenses paid trip to . . . . “satisfaction”! Enjoy your day!
Please vote. It only takes 5 minutes! To vote,
Go to www.TallyAwards.com Select the “vote!” tab Select the “register” tab Insert your user name & email address Scroll down to the law firms and select “Myers & Associate” Select the VOTE button
By Meghan Bensted, Esq.
Now What?? You’ve been arrested for a DUI?
After being arrested for a DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend you driver’s license but, for 10 days, your traffic ticket will serve as your “license” to drive on Florida’s highways. After 10 days, your driving privileges will be suspended, so you must request a DMV administrative hearing within (10) days of your arrest. At that hearing, you can ask for a hardship license, authorizing you to drive to the grocery store, the laundry, to work and to school. If you fail to do so, your license could be suspended for up to one year, and the request for a hardship license may be denied for an extended time!
You should always request an administrative review and always bring a lawyer with you to that hearing. This hearing is extremely important and gives your lawyer a chance to hear the evidence the police have against you.
This is because, in Florida, the penalties related to a DUI offense are serious, and the penalties accumulate with every additional conviction. Did you know, if you have a few serious traffic violations and then get charged with a DUI you could be classified as a “habitual traffic offender,” and there is a possibility you could lose your license for five years?! Therefore,
- Don’t plead guilty or no contest to drunk driving until you’ve had a DUI defense attorney look at your case.
- Don’t pay traffic tickets without talking with a lawyer – By doing so you may be admitting guilt to a serious driving violation.
Time is of the essence. Contact Myers & Associates for an immediate free case review. Your review will be confidential and is offered at no cost or obligation.
Written by Meghan M. Bensted, Esquire
Texting while driving is now illegal in Florida. However, the distracted drivers won’t disappear as talking on your cell phone is still legal in Florida.
On May 28, 2013, Governor Rick Scott passed the Senate Bill 52, which he said would make the state’s roads safer. In his statement, he stated, “As a father and grandfather, texting while driving is something that concerns me and my loved ones are on the road.” [sic] So what does this mean for you?
Florida has become the 40th state to outlaw texting while driving. The bill, SB 52, creates the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law,” which makes texting while driving a secondary offense.
The new law will ban operating a motor vehicle “while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data in such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication, including, but not limited to, communication methods known as texting, emailing and instant messaging.”
The ban allows texting while stopped at a red light. It includes tablets and computers, but excludes using a “text-to-talk” feature.
The first violation is punishable as a nonmoving violation, with a fine of $30 plus court cost that vary by county. A second or subsequent violation committed within 5 years after the first is a moving violation punishable by a $60 fine plus court costs.
The bill allows for the admissibility of a person’s wireless communications device billing records or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such messages as evidence in the event of a crash resulting in death or personal injury.
In addition to the fines, a violation of the unlawful use of a cell phone which results in a crash will result in 6 points added to the offender’s driver’s license record and the unlawful use of the cell phone while committing a moving violation within a school safety zone will result in 2 points added to the offenders license record in addition to points for the moving violations.
These provisions take effect October 1, 2013.
Mr. Hastings Read has moved onto a post at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and we wish him all the best fortune in the world. He’ll be missed. Ms. Meghan M. Bensted has come aboard and will quickly assume Hastings’s duties. She comes as a 2012 graduate of the Florida State University, College of Law, and we welcome her.
On March 15, 2013, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis entered a temporary injunction finding that Florida’s new Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) law is likely to be found unconstitutional. Judge Lewis cited a possible violation of Art I, Section 21 of the Florida Constitution, which guarantees citizens’ rights to access to the courts. The temporary injunction was subsequently stayed after an appeal was filed by the Office of Insurance Regulation. However, on April 17, 2013, Judge Lewis vacated the stay of the injunction, meaning that until an appellate court overrules Judge Lewis temporary injunction, certain provisions of the 2012 PIP law are no longer the law in Florida.
This ruling has enormous implications because if the Judge Lewis’ decision is upheld by the appellate courts, two of the key PIP reforms passed during the 2012 Florida Legislative Session will be voided. This would have the effect of returning to the pre-2012 PIP law, which critics have argued was a hotbed for insurance fraud. Some of the key provisions in the 2012 PIP law which are no longer enforceable include: (1) the exclusion of acupuncturists, chiropractors, and massage therapists from receiving payments from an injured party’s PIP insurer; and (2) the $2,500 limit for medical benefits for non-emergency conditions.
Florida’s PIP law was originally passed in 1971 as tort reform with the underlying premise being that Florida citizens give up their right to sue for non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) in exchange for prompt access to medical services without regards to who was the at-fault driver in an auto accident. This was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court as reasonable alternative to the tort system. Judge Lewis ruled that the changes made by the new PIP law meant that the PIP system was no longer a reasonable alternative to a pure common law tort system and therefore likely to be found unconstitutional.
By Hastings S.C. Read, Esquire
Our law firm also helps families who’ve lost beloved members involved in deadly accidents. It is unfortunate that anyone has to go through this but, if they do, the Florida Legislature has promulgated procedures by which those families can be compensated for their loss, and we will fight for a family’s right to be compensated.
Attorneys use the word “damages” as a general term for the different kinds of recoveries, such as money awards, a family can get in a wrongful death case. However, it is important to note that only one family member is usually appointed as a Personal Representative of his or her deceased family member’s estate.
In these cases, we open probate estates so that a judge can appoint one family member as the Personal Representative [“P.R.”]. The Wrongful Death Act provides that the P.R., and only the P.R., may recover on behalf of the family and the probate estate, even though there may be several individuals entitled to damages.
If a settlement or judgment is obtained, the P.R. is in charge of distributing the awards to the family members, generally speaking.
The “decedent” is the person who passed away in the accident. Those who may lawfully recover damages are called “survivors,” and Florida statutes specifically define “survivors” to mean the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and, when partly or wholly dependent on the decedent for support or services, any blood relatives and adoptive brothers and sisters.
Whenever the Wrongful Death Act talks about “minor children,” it means the decedent’s children under 25 years of age, not just those under 18.
What can a family member recover for damages?
Each survivor may recover the value of lost support and services from the date of the decedent’s injury to his or her death, with interest, and future loss of support and services.
The surviving spouse may also recover for loss of the decedent’s companionship and protection and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Children under the age of 25 years, and all children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse, may also recover for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance and for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury.
Additionally, each parent of a deceased minor child may also recover for mental pain and suffering from the date of injury. Each parent of an adult child may also recover for mental pain and suffering if there are no other survivors.
The decedent’s estate may recover other damages too but, notably, damages flowing into the estate may be subject to creditors’ claims.
Disclaimer: This blog talks about death cases, in general. There are many specifics to apply to a set of circumstances, so this blog should not be relied upon to determine one’s rights. It is informative in nature only. No two cases are exactly alike, and potential new clients are forewarned that they need a skilled trial attorney to help them maneuver through Florida’s Wrongful Death Act.
In car accidents as well as slip-and-fall cases, the legal theory under which you might recover is called negligence. The person presenting the claim is called a “claimant” before a lawsuit is filed and called a “plaintiff” after the suit is filed. Notably, many times our clients settle before filing a lawsuit.
To prove negligence, we must first identify whether the at-fault party (called a defendant) had a “legal duty” toward the Claimant. In other words, does federal or Florida law impose a duty on the Defendant to act, or to refrain from acting, in some way that somehow pertains to the safety and welfare of the claimant. For example, a Florida driver has a legal duty to drive his car in a reasonable manner, with the safety of himself and others in mind.
Secondly, we must identify evidence that the defendant broke (we say “breached”) that legal duty. In other words, we’re looking at whether the defendant did something contrary to her duty. For example, did she run a stop sign and run into the claimant’s car? She had a legal duty to stop, but didn’t.
Thirdly, we identify evidence about whether the breach of duty caused injury or damage to the Claimant. Causation can often be the most important issue in a case, i.e., whether the slip-and-fall caused the claimant to have back problems, compared to whether she had similar back problems BEFORE the fall.
Lastly, we must find and present evidence about what injuries or damage the defendant caused the plaintiff. For example, we identify the medical expenses, lost wages, and mental anguish our clients suffer as a result of the defendant’s negligent actions. According to Florida law, an injured party in a car accident case must prove she sustained a permanent injury as a direct result of the accident before she may be awarded money for pain & suffering, mental anguish and other non-economic damages.
In summary, in negligence cases such as car accidents, we search for evidence that the a) at-fault party had a legal duty toward our client; b) that the at-fault party breached that duty; c) that the breach caused injury to our client; and, d) whether our client sustained damages directly due to the at-fault party’s breach of legal duty.
Our firm consists of car accident injury lawyers and, on May 1, 2013, I will have completed twenty years of serving theTallahassee area as a civil trial attorney. It’s been my distinct privilege and honor to do so. We fight for our clients’ rights as car accident lawyers in Tallahassee. Having said that, I feel there is so much more that Myers and Associate and I can give to the community. First and foremost, we seek to serve our clients to the best of our abilities.
Over that twenty year span, I’ve been lead counsel for more than 30 jury trials, collectively involving many car accidents, deaths, and millions of dollars in disputed claims. More importantly, I’ve represented nearly 1,000 clients over that same time period. Nearly all civil cases settle before trial, and that was true for my clients over the years. Our staff and I have worked hard on each case. We always understood what it meant to be professional, and we currently hope to help you too, with compassion and a true concern for what’s right and what’s wrong.
R. Frank Myers.