Recently, Broward County Florida Circuit Court Judge, Richard Eade granted a motion to amend to allow a claim for punitive damages in a vehicular civil negligence lawsuit. This is quite a significant order issued by Judge Eade, which if allowed to stand, may have a significant impact not only for the Plaintiff in that lawsuit who suffered a fractured hip and legs, required extensive surgery and walks with a limp, but may go a long way ending the use of hand held cell phones type devices and particularly the practice of texting while driving.
Firstly, punitive damages cannot be initially pled in the Plaintiff’s Complaint. The Plaintiff may move to amend its pleadings to seek punitive damages against a Defendant pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 768.72 “… upon a reasonable showing by evidence in the record or proffered by the claimant which would provide a reasonable basis for recovery of such damages. The claimant may move to amend her or his complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages as allowed by the rules of civil procedure.”
The more significant aspect is the global concern for the use of handheld communication devices, cell phones and texting during the operation of a motor vehicle. Bills which have been introduced to the
Florida legislature in an attempt to ban texting while driving have failed three times. Incredibly, each time these bills were stopped in the House, based upon arguments that there were sufficient laws in Florida that addressed careless drivers. Remarkably, there are only eleven states without a ban on texting, as noted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, and New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas do not permit texting by those who are operating with a learner’s permit.
This personal injury attorney currently represents a couple who were cut off while operating their motorcycle by a careless driver who was alleged to have been operating her cell phone in the midst of attempting to make a left turn immediately in front of them. The wrongdoer in that case has left our clients with hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical expense and the wrongdoer does not have sufficient insurance coverage to even satisfy a fraction of their damages.
Hopefully, Judge Eade’s decision to allow granting the motion for punitive damages will start a trend where the legislature in Florida has failed to properly and timely act on this significant issue — that is responsible for as a significant distraction while driving. And in the experience of this Weston Car Accident Attorney, it is often the role of the Plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney to champion the dangers that are allowed to continue in our society that neither big business nor the legislature are willing to address before the cost is addressed to the public.
For further information regarding this very important topic please feel free to call the Weston Personal Injury Attorney at 1.877.LAW.0444, 954.349.330, or at firstname.lastname@example.org