Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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In the Courtroom

Partner Justin Shapiro represented a family visiting Key West from California that was involved in a jet ski incident and Partner Adam Rose represented the family of a Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy injured in a motor vehicle accident.

photo__1823362_justin-150x150Unparalleled Experience and Success Representing Victims of Jet Ski Incidents

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As just discussed in our most recent post “Settlement reached in Florida Keys seven mile bridge fatal car accident” head-on crashes in the Florida Keys is all too common. Yesterday, 22-year-old Kristine Rivera was killed when the vehicle she was in, operated by Didier Miles, 24, slammed head-on into a taxi that was stopped on Overseas Highway, waiting to make a turn.

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Islamorada Fire-Rescue firefighters wheel Didier Miles to an ambulance Monday evening. (Photo taken by David Goodhue- Courtesy of

Details of the accident have yet to be released to the public, however it is likely that speeding and/or distraction may have been the cause for the umpteenth time. A witness came forward and said to a Miami Herald reporter that Kristine Rivera, the now deceased woman, rear-ended his vehicle approximately 4 miles south of where the fatal accident occurred.

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It almost invariably happens the same way for many people who travel the roads of Monroe County, and Key West in particular. You are driving on Flagler Avenue, or Truman Avenue, or North Roosevelt Boulevard, when, out of nowhere, a distracted driver crashes into your car.

Invariably, the at-fault driver who caused the accident will exit his vehicle and offer an apology while asking if you and everyone in your car is ok. An officer from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will respond to the scene, listen to all parties involved and will issue a citation to the negligent driver. If you are hurt in the incident, the severity of your injuries will dictate how your personal injury claim will be handled. The magnitude of your injuries is the only variable in this scenario.

A victim of a traffic accident caused by a third-party in Florida has one out of four chances the negligent driver does not have insurance (nearly 24 percent of all drivers in Florida don’t have insurance, according to the nonprofit Insurance Research Council.)

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On December 11, 2012, a car accident in Saddlebunch Keys saw one person transported to a local hospital and another airlifted emergently to Miami. The Sheriff’s Office has yet to provide the names of the victims or how the multiple vehicle accident occurred shortly before 5pm.

This is the latest major motor vehicle accident with injuries in the Florida Keys. Monroe County has a long history of injuries and deaths caused by car accidents, most of which happen on the highway leading into Monroe County from the mainland. Overseas Highway is the single way in and single way out of the County. In 2010, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA) recorded 21 fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes in Monroe County, and 3 fatalities involving bicyclists.


The reason for such a sad record can be attributed to multiple factors. One is the road itself. The highway presents unique and dangerous conditions due to the high volume of visitor traffic on a single highway, and the close proximity of county residential areas. On top of that, the road consists of a series of bridges connecting islands, narrow in many places, and offers many distractions. The main reason listed by the local authorities and the NHTSA is the binge alcohol consumption associated with vacationing contributes greatly to high fatalities and accident rates.

The NHTSA recently published that in 2010, among the many factors most influencing fatal crashes in Monroe County, alcohol consumption and alcohol-impaired drivers amounted to a whooping 22% of all fatal crashes.

To put these numbers into perspective, Florida CHARTS compared alcohol-related fatal crashes in Monroe County with the rest of the State of Florida (per 100,000 persons). The verdict is clear and troubling. In 2001, Monroe County had a death rate twice as high as the rest of the State (12.6 to 6.1). In 2010, while the State’s rate decreased to 4.2, Monroe County’s death rate grew to a monumental 19.2. In other words, Monroe County has a death rate 5 times higher than the rest of the State of Florida when it comes to alcohol-related fatal accidents.
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Yesterday, the annual Fantasy Fest was drawing to a close, but countless visitors and locals will not forget several terrible accidents which caused Overseas Highway to be shutdown for several hours by police.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Becky Herrin told the Sun-Sentinel that they “expect heavy traffic, possibly with a bottleneck in Islamorada that sometimes stretches to the Long Key Bridge. Our roads can only hold so many cars. And Fantasy Fest pretty much maxes out our traffic.”

accident_marathon.jpgDuring the last weekend of the festivities in Key West, Florida Highway Patrol and numerous Sheriff’s Deputies responded to more than 21 motor vehicle accidents. One of them involved the collision of a motorcycle with another car at mile marker 29.5 in Big Pine Key. One of the two people on the motorcycle was severely injured and rushed to Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon where he was pronounced dead. The second occupant was flown to Miami by helicopter for further medical treatment.

Several hours earlier, two vehicles collided at mile marker 41 on the seven-mile bridge, which required the emergency rescue and transport to three people to Fishermen’s Hospital.

Over the years, the road to and from Key West has seen thousands of car accidents, with many resulting in fatalities. The causes for these crashes are often times attributed to speeding, alcohol, or texting. A study has revealed that between 2006 and 2010, Monroe County averaged 1,329 car accidents every year. Also, in the last 34 years, ending in 2009, the number of fatal car accidents throughout the county of Monroe was drastically higher than the average for the rest of the state of Florida. In the past ten years, there have been more than 220 fatal accidents in Monroe County.

Leesfield & Partners have established their offices in Key West over three decades ago and have been a staple in the personal injury landscape in Key West and throughout the Florida Keys.
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