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When you live in Tampa you’ll be driving over and around water almost daily. In 2017 there were 11 people who were killed in Florida when their vehicles crashed in water. According to the American Automobile Association, in 2018 about 21,000 crashes in which 1,800 people died throughout the United States. There are some tools that you can use to help you escape from your vehicle if it becomes submerged in water or catches on fire. These will help you break through a window and free yourself.

What These Tools Are

There are both spring-loaded and hammer-style tools available. The spring-loaded tools can break tempered windows, which are the type of windows that most cars have. Unfortunately, the hammer-style tools don’t work nearly as well. When tested there was only one that could crack the glass while the other two did nothing, even after the window was struck with it 5 times. Neither the spring-loaded or hammer-style tools could break the laminated glass that’s growing popular in most new cars today. This is a really strong glass that’s able to keep people from being ejected from the vehicle when they get into a crash. It’s this additional security that makes it harder to break out of these vehicles if you’re trapped in one of them. These discoveries were made after the American Automobile Association tested these tools.

Choosing the Right Tool for Your Vehicle

According to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations everyone should have some type of tool in their vehicle. Most of these tools cost under $15 and are worth much more when they help you escape from an accident. They’re also quite small – typically only about the size of chapstick. Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA in Tampa highly recommends buying a spring-loaded tool instead of a hammer-style one. He says this is important because if you have the wrong tool it’ll be worthless at the time of an accident. To know what type of tool you need, look at the bottom corner of your vehicle’s side window where you’ll discover whether you have tempered or laminated glass in your vehicle. If the information isn’t there, contact the vehicle’s manufacturer. They can also tell you if different windows throughout your vehicle also use different types of glass.

Knowing What to do at the Time of an Accident

Being well-educated about these tools before you need to use them is very important. You should also have an emergency plan formed in your head before you get into a car crash since this will save you precious time if an emergency does arise. When you get into a car crash Dougherty says that you only have 30 – 120 seconds to escape from your vehicle. Unfortunately, this isn’t much time which is why you need to have a plan ahead of time and do your best to remain calm when you must enact the plan. Both he and Jenkins also stress the importance of keeping the item easily accessible so you don’t waste time trying to find it when you need to use it – hence wasting precious time.

One of the best ways to store this tool is to simply use a piece of Velcro to affix it beneath your steering wheel. This will only work for small tools, but AAA says you shouldn’t buy one that has additional features anyway since this won’t improve the tool’s performance. Instead, these additional features simply make the tool bigger, clunkier, and harder to use.

Conclusion

When you get into a car crash in Tampa, you’ll want to find a lawyer to represent you. For this make sure you call the Rojas Law Group immediately.

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Recently AAA conducted a research study about new ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) technologies including adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and lane-keeping assistance. While these technologies were created to help keep you and your passengers safe while you’re driving on the road, this research discovered that it may be causing car accidents instead.

What AAA’s Research Discovered

In AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s most recent study about ADAS technologies they discovered that the people who are the most distracted by these ADAS technologies were those who owned a vehicle with these technologies installed within them. Although you’d think that these people would be less distracted since they should already know how their vehicles’ ADAS technologies work, this simply was not true. Instead these drivers were much more distracted (some of these drivers were observed engaging in texting or adjusting their radio) when they had their ADAS technologies activated. In fact, when these ADAS technologies weren’t activated, the drivers were much less distracted.

The opposite was also true in that those people who weren’t familiar with these features were much more attentive and engaged while behind the wheel.

This doesn’t mean that these ADAS technologies aren’t worthwhile. They really do have a lot to offer, especially when it comes to safety and comfort. However, it’s important for drivers to realize that these ADAS technologies were never meant to replace their attention and engagement that should always be present while they’re behind the wheel. After all, you never know when this technology may fail and if you’re too distracted you may not be able to avoid a car accident when it does.

According to AAA’s executive director, Dr. David Yang, the bottom line here is that long-term use of ADAS technologies is the problem.

How to Combat Complacency

There are some things you can do to help you not become complacent in your use of these technologies. This is important since complacency is one of the main factors in the majority of car accidents that happen on the roads today. With this in mind, AAA says that you should make sure that:

  • You’re always active and engaged, even when you’re using lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control technologies.
  • You know what ADAS technologies are installed in your vehicle and how each of them works.
  • You remember that while these ADAS technologies are great and can be quite helpful, they do have their limitations.

Conclusion

You never know when a car accident may happen. Despite your best efforts to remain alert while on the roads, you never know when another driver has become complacent. Of course, this is why it’s so important to know how to drive well defensively. It’s also important to know where to get help from an experienced lawyer when you do end up in an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident is. If you get into an accident while living in Tampa, Florida you should reach out to the Rojas Law Group. Put Attorney Rojas to work for you and you’ll put your anxiety about the accident to rest as well.

Unfortunately, disaster has a way of happening when we least expect it. This is something that bankruptcy attorneys know all too well. After all, people rarely make an appointment to talk to these lawyers when their lives are going well. Instead, clients enter their offices when something has gone horribly wrong, oftentimes quite unexpectedly – for instance, a car accident. If you find yourself in this scenario, relax you now have an option available to you to help discharge the debt.

How Bankruptcy Deals with Property Damages from Car Accidents

According to the law you as a debtor can discharge debts for any damage that resulted from a vehicular accident. The only exception to this is Section 523(a)(6) which says that you cannot discharge property damages that you’ve willfully and maliciously caused to another person or their property. This is something that was demonstrated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Kawaauhau v. Geiger matter, 523 U.S. 57, 61–62 (1998) whereby willful and malicious acts were differentiated from negligent and reckless acts.

According to this case willful injuries are those that are deliberately or intentionally done. Typically, this means that an auto accident will fall outside of this scope. Even if you’re caught driving drunk, you’re usually charged with actions of “reckless disregard” and not ones that are “willful and malicious.” The only exception to this occurs in a car accident Chapter 7 case. If you file a Chapter 13 case though, there isn’t a property damage exception. This means that any damage that resulted from your vehicular accident will automatically be discharged in a Chapter 13 case.

How Bankruptcy Deals with Personal Injury Debt from Car Accidents

Unfortunately, when it comes to personal injuries the bankruptcy code is less forgiving. There are in fact a lot of restrictions related to discharging such debts. Section 523(a)(9) contains the most restrictive of these exceptions. It has to do with driving while you’re under the influence of alcohol and it doesn’t matter if you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, it still applies to you.

It is quite possible for the court to find that your judgment satisfies all the necessary elements to meet an exception according to Section 523(a)(9) but it still isn’t bound by an acquittal in a state DUI case. This is because the standard of proof is different for criminal proceedings in the state court. A bankruptcy may also discover that under Section 523(a)(9) personal injuries can’t be discharged even if you aren’t charged with or you’re acquitted of a criminal DUI offense.

Conclusion

For more information on how all of this works and what your rights are concerning your car accident if you were to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case, contact the Rojas Law Group today. Over the years Attorney Rojas has helped many people successfully navigate their way through these grey areas of the law. Make sure to give her a call today and set up an appointment so she can help you too.

Picture Credit: Matthew T Rader

When you’re driving alone at night in Florida you face some additional dangers that you wouldn’t otherwise be faced with. Not only are other drivers more fatigued but there are also drunk drivers on the road too. Add to this the fact that visibility is generally poor and that there may be wildlife on the roads, and you can see that you’ll need some safety tips to help you navigate the roads safely after dark. This is without even thinking about the fact that you may be a possible target for criminals.

Improve Visibility

Take good care of your eyesight. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’ll want to make sure you keep your prescription up to date. You should also consider getting a no-glare coating on them so that you can see better while driving at night. On the other hand, if you wear contact lenses, you shouldn’t drive at night if you’ve worn them all day. This is because they may become dry and uncomfortable.

As far as safety tips for the vehicle you’re driving, you should adjust both the interior and dash light to prevent glare. Also, make sure that you use your headlights and high beams as necessary so that not only you can see but you can also be seen.

Travel with a Passenger

When you’re traveling with a passenger in your vehicle, you’re less likely to be targeted by criminals. You’ll also have a better chance of staying awake and alert behind the wheel. Your passenger can act as an extra set of eyes as well. On a related note, you shouldn’t use cruise control at night. In this way, you’re forced to focus on the road but make sure that your passengers aren’t distracting you from doing so.

Keep Your Vehicle from Breaking Down

It’s important to perform routine maintenance on your vehicle and always keep your gas tank full. You don’t want to break down or run out of gas in the middle of a road after dark. Of course, you may still encounter an emergency and if you do you should remain in your vehicle and call for help.

Don’t get Lost

Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there. Always take the main route so that you’ll have more businesses open and landmarks available. Even if you’ve traveled this road several times in the past, it may still look different in the dark.

Be Aware of Criminals

When a criminal can see that they can’t easily access your vehicle or that there isn’t anything in your vehicle that they want to access, you’ll be less of a target for them. You can take this a step further by keeping your interior lights turned off at night so that the inside of your vehicle is less visible.

Sometimes you may notice that another driver is either acting suspiciously or aggressively. Always trust your instincts in these circumstances. Make sure you lock your doors, call for help, and drive to a police station, open business, or a gas station.

Be Alert

It’s important to keep the interior of your vehicle cool and never drive when you’re feeling exhausted. The darkness of night can make you feel even more tired. If you must drive, drink some caffeine and take frequent breaks.

Contact an Attorney if Necessary

Despite your best efforts to follow these safety tips you may still be injured in a car accident. When this happens, you may have a legal claim on your hands. This is when you’ll want to contact the Rojas Law Group to ensure you get what you deserve out of your claim.

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When you’re in a car accident do you know what steps you should take? If you answered “no” to this question, you should know that you’re not alone. The steps you should take are important and easy to remember, which is why we’ll review them here for you.

Stay Put

When you’re in a car accident in Florida, law dictates that you must stop and exchange information with the other driver. Of course, you want to make sure that you don’t obstruct traffic any more than necessary. If anyone has been injured, you must render “reasonable assistance” to them. Failure to take these steps may result in you being charged with a felony if someone is injured or dies. Even if there’s only property damage, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor.

While at the scene of the accident, make sure everyone is fine and if anyone does need medical assistance, call 911 immediately. If someone is killed or there’s injuries or property damage of $500 or more you must immediately notify the police and highway patrol. Regardless, you’re responsible for exchanging information all relevant information (e.g. name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, insurance company and policy number). You should also get this information for any witnesses. It’s also in your best interest to take photographs and notes too.

Although you may be tempted to apologize, don’t. You don’t want to discuss liability right now. Doing so may result in you unintentionally or unnecessarily admitting guilt.

Contact Your Insurance

As soon as possible, call your insurance company and report the accident. In Florida you’re responsible for maintaining at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). Since Florida is a “no fault” state, PIP will cover you regardless of who’s at fault. Your PDL will cover any damage that you’ve done to another person’s property.

Make sure you’re honest with your insurance company. This doesn’t mean you have to accept their settlement offer though. If this means that you’re struggling to have your claim resolved, then make sure you participate in the mediation that’s offered by the Florida Department of Financial Services. This is also who you should talk to if you have questions or want to file a complaint about your insurance.

Talk to an Attorney

Unfortunately, there are times when you may need to take legal action after a car accident. Oftentimes this will depend on the extent of the injuries and the amount of damage that occurred. For this you must remember that the Statute of Limitations (the timeframe you have for being able to file a negligence or personal injury claim) is four years from the date upon which the accident occurred. Typically, such claims are based on the idea that the other driver was negligent. This means that they were careless and thus caused or contributed to the accident.

You can also seek monetary compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in this manner. There are different divisions of the court that may hear your claim depending on how much financial compensation you’re seeking. For instance, the county civil court will hear any case seeking up to $15,000 while the county civil court hears cases of up to $15,000 and the circuit court is responsible for any case seeking financial compensation above that level.

Don’t try to figure everything out by yourself. When you’re in a car accident in Tampa, give Attorney Juana Maria Rojas right away. She can help you sort through your claim and get the settlement you deserve. Get started today by contacting her now.

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Oftentimes when a person gets into a car accident, they believe that their insurance will take care of everything for them. Unfortunately, when you’re in a fender bender you may underestimate its cost. However, any accident you’re in (yes, even a fender bender) can cost you a lot of money. Even if you’ve been paying your insurance company’s premiums for years, they may still not cover the entire cost of the accident. This is why it’s so important for you to right away decide if you need the help of an experienced attorney. In doing so you must take all the various costs of the accident into consideration.

Repairing or Replacing Your Vehicle

When your car is damaged in an accident, you’ll either pay a mechanic to fix it or buy a new car. If the accident is minor (e.g. scratches, dents), you may still pay a lot of money to have your car fixed.

Damage to Your Personal Property

When you have valuable items in your vehicle (e.g. laptop, camera, phone) during the time of your car accident you’ll need to pay to have the items replaced. This can easily add up to thousands of dollars.

Vehicle Financing

If you’re leasing your vehicle or using any other type of financing, you must continue to meet these obligations after your car accident – even if your car is deemed a total loss. This can be devastating, especially if you must take some time off work to recover from your injuries.

Medical Bills

After the accident, you may need to visit your local hospital’s emergency room. Even if it’s a “minor” accident you may still have medical costs in the future as you get follow up treatment. These bills quickly add up. They can be particularly tricky if you slowly develop symptoms because then your insurance company may say that they weren’t a result of your accident. Sometimes you’ll have to pay out of pocket for medications or for co-pays to see a specialist or have certain tests done. Even if you’ve only been in a minor car accident you should still be seen by a doctor because you don’t want to find out later that you did suffer an injury, only to be left fighting for your insurance company to pay the bill.

Lost Time at Work

When you’re injured you may be unable to return to work for a while. This will result in decreased income and it could also result in missing out on new opportunities that you could have otherwise taken advantage of (e.g. a promotion).

Incidental Fees

Even a minor car accident can result in many incidental fees adding up to a large cost for you to pay. Some of the things you should consider here include:

  • Taking a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get places you need to be
  • Renting a car because you can’t use other types of transportation
  • Replacing your cell phone because it was damaged in the accident
  • Getting help at home if you’ve been injured (e.g. can’t use your hand)

Legal Fees

If the other driver blames the car accident on you, then you may have to defend yourself. This will result in you having legal fees. You may also have these fees if you must take your insurance company to court to get fair compensation.

Don’t dismiss this incident as not being serious enough to retain legal representation. Look at the costs that are involved and any legal situations you may find yourself in. By doing so you’ll see that contacting the Rojas Law Group is one of the best decisions you can make as you go through this ordeal. Don’t delay, call them today.

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Almost daily the question is posed by someone: “Do I need a car accident attorney?” The quick answer is there are certain times when you definitely will.

There’s Been Serious Injury, or Someone has Died in the Accident

If a person was seriously injured or killed in the accident, you need to immediately contact an experienced lawyer. These types of accidents can result in complicated lawsuits or you may even need to file a lawsuit of your own to recoup the cost of your injuries’ medical treatment. Regardless which side of the law you’re on, the court will need to consider all the complex issues that are involved to determine the amount of the settlement. Since this could be quite costly you don’t want to represent yourself. Your car accident attorney will know what is fair and be able to guide you through this process. This typically begins with a free consultation so you don’t initially have to worry about consulting with an attorney

You Need Ongoing Care so You Can’t Work

When you’re injured so badly you can’t return to work afterwards a lawyer ensures that you receive the maximum compensation possible. It’s their job to calculate the amount of compensation to which you’re entitled. As they do so they’ll take into account any time you’ve missed from work, as well as how much your medical treatment will cost both now and in the future.

More Than one Person was Injured

Accidents involving three or more vehicles, pedestrians, property, or commercial entities complicates your insurance claim’s settlement and negotiation process and may result in several lawsuits. When you’re injured in this type of accident you should contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your case. They’ll help you fight for the compensation you deserve while keeping your liability to the minimum. They’re also responsible for communicating with the other parties’ attorneys as well as all insurance companies involved – something that can save you a huge headache.

There was an Uninsured Motorist Involved

If anyone didn’t have insurance at the time of the accident, it’s important to get a car accident attorney immediately. Motorists are required to have insurance to pay for any accident they may cause while driving. Unfortunately, not everyone obeys the law and when this happens your lawyer will help you evaluate your options and, if necessary, file a civil lawsuit to recover your monetary damages.

Evidence Concerning the Accident Needs to be Collected

When you’re injured in a car accident a lawyer can help you collect and analyze evidence to show who’s at fault and the monetary amount of the damages that occurred. If you’re driving a newer vehicle this is easier because they’ll typically contain a “black box” that records critical information when an accident occurs. This information can be used to establish how fast your vehicle was moving during the time of the accident and if you’re wearing your seatbelt. To access the other driver’s black box you’ll need a court order.

There are Upcoming Settlement Talks

Typically, a car accident lawsuit is settled before going to trial. This means you’ll receive a settlement from the driver who’s at fault. Unfortunately, this is usually an unreasonably low amount of money. You don’t have to settle for anything that isn’t fair because if you do, you’ll give up your rights. This is why it’s important to understand the extent of your damages and injuries before you engage in any negotiations. This is where an experienced car accident attorney can oftentimes get you a more favorable settlement.

When you find yourself in need of a car accident attorney in Tampa, FL make sure you reach out to the Rojas Law Group. They have the experience you need on your side.

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