Miami Heat dancer’s death involved driver who had been drinking

Miami television news station, Channel 4, reports that the driver of the car that struck a motorcyclist in east Fort Lauderdale which resulted in the death of a Miami Heat dancer stated to police that he had consumed two alcoholic drinks.

Channel 4 was able to access the search warrant filed in Broward County court which stated the driver, Mario Careaga of Fort Lauderdale, advised the police that he had the drinks at the Galeria Mall in Fort Lauderdale. The accident occurred near downtown Fort Lauderdale. So far no criminal charges have been filed against Careaga.

Police records state that Careaga was driving his 2009 Mercedes when he struck Miami Heat dancer, 22, of Plantation, who was riding a motorcycle near downtown Fort Lauderdale. The motorcylist had been heading west in the right lane on East Sunrise Boulevard, near North Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale, when Careaga’s car rear-ended the motorcycle, propelling Lopez-Ruiz off it.

This case raises a number of issues from the standpoint of filing criminal charges against the driver. One of the potential issues in any criminally prosecution which might be pursued against the driver of the automobile is whether he was under the influence of alcohol or a narcotic. Usually, two drinks do not contain enough alcohol to impair a driver’s faculties. However, drivers suspected of DUI frequently understate the amount of alcohol consumed in an attempt to minimize their potential criminal exposure.

In situations like this other evidence may come into play, such as a blood alcohol test or a breathalyzer test to determine whether the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood exceeded the legal limit. There may also be a video of the driver performing roadside tests administered by the police or even a video from the bar where he apparently admits to have been drinking. Likewise his tab at the bar may also reveal how many drinks were ordered.

On the other hand, this could simply be the case of a non-impaired driver who simply wasn’t paying attention and may have negligently rear-ended the victim. It will be the responsibility of the Broward County State Attorney’s office to sort all of this out.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at The Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage — Supreme Court requires signed rejection from all named insureds

Uninsured/Undersinsured Motorist Coverage, frequently referred to as UM/UIM coverage applies in the event an insured is injured by a motorist who does not have liability coverage, or who who does not have a sufficient amount of liability coverage, to compensate the named insured for the damages sustained. UM/UIM coverage is particularly important in South Florida where a significant portion of the drivers on the road fail to purchase any liability coverage and therefore makes it difficult, if not impossible, to recover from them in the event they are responsible for an accident involving injuries.

Because UM/UIM is considered to be important coverage for Florida drivers, our legislature has mandated that when an insurance carrier initially sells a policy of automobile insurance coverage, it must notify the insured that he has the right to purchase, as an additional option, UM/UIM coverage from the carrier. If the insured elects not to purchase this coverage, a written rejection must be signed. In the event that the carrier fails to obtain this signed rejection, then the carrier will be responsible for UM/UIM coverage even if the insured fails to purchase this coverage.

In this case the insured was not originally named on the policy. Later, the policy was reissued with her as named insured, but a signed rejection was never signed from this person. Following a horrible accident, the insurance company, Horace Mann Ins. Co., denied UM/UIM coverage and a lawsuit ensured. The case was appealed up to the Florida Supreme Court which ruled that because the policy was reissued with an additional named insured, a signed rejection had to be obtained from that person. Since none was obtained, the court found that there was UM/UIM coverage for that person.

One of the lessons to be learned from this case for persons purchasing automobile insurance is that they need to understand what types of insurance coverage they are purchasing from their agent and what they are signing. Florida law only requires that the owner of a car purchase only PIP coverage and property damage. This bare minimum is frequently referred by agents as “full coverage.” In reality this anything but.

Every purchaser of automobile insurance needs to carefully consider purchasing UM/UIM coverage because this may be their only insurance coverage for their injuries in the event that they are involved in an accident. They also should make sure they understand what forms they are signing when an insurance agent hands a paper to them and tells them to sign it — particularly when it is a UM rejection form.

With over 50 years of collective service to the South Florida community, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, personal injury lawyers at The Law Firm have helped thousands of clients to obtain money compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death claims.

All of the firm’s partners have received the prestigious “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, which is a recognition by their peers in the legal community that their practice meets the highest professional and ethical standards.

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