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YOUR GUIDE T O L AW, A CCOUN T ING & F IN A N CE

Michelle Suskauer: The Florida Bar’s Incoming President

Also: • Self-Driving Vehicles Raise Liability Concerns • No Sign of a Let-up in South Florida’s Real Estate Run • New Residential Development Focuses on Infill Locations • Law Firms Expanding Their Practice Groups • Addressing Mental Health Issues in the Legal Profession www.sflegalguide.com


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Have You Become ‘Comfortably Numb’? Attorneys and other professionals have different ways of coping with stress. One approach is to release all those internal tensions by erupting in a temper tantrum, ranting and raving until you feel better. While this may be effective in blowing off steam, it can be very destructive to your personal and professional relationships. No one wants to work for an attorney with an explosive temper who lashes out at people without warning. Other attorneys cope with stress by holding everything inside. They try to present an image of strength to their colleagues, clients, friends and families, while burying their feelings of fear, anxiety or depression. While good for a professional career, this approach raises the risk of a mental health crisis, alcoholism, substance abuse and even suicide. Professionals who are used to using their

brains to solve clients’ problems also run the risk of detaching themselves from their emotions. When faced with a stressful situation, such as courtroom confrontation, they try to reason their way through the problem. However, the brain and body are meant to work together, not be split apart. Detaching from one’s emotions to avoid painful feelings makes it more difficult to empathize with clients, or prepare a convincing argument for a jury. It also takes away from the pleasures in life. So, heed the warning in the classic Pink Floyd song, and don’t become “Comfortably Numb.” South Florida Legal Guide applauds The Florida Bar for taking action to bring substance abuse and mental illness out of the shadows and into the light. You can read about this important ongoing initiative in this issue.

We believe it’s time to address the stigma often attached to mental illness and make it easier for legal professionals to get help. After all, chronic depression, panic attacks, and anxiety are well-recognized clinical conditions – not personal shortcomings. In many cases, counseling, medication or behavior therapy can be very effective in treating mental health problems. An attorney with the courage to seek out appropriate care should be applauded. It can be the next step toward a deeper understanding of oneself, and better relationships with clients, as well as family and friends.

RICHARD WESTLUND

Richard Westlund

Editor

PUBLISHER JACOB SAFDEYE jacob@sflegalguide.com EDITOR IN CHIEF RICHARD WESTLUND editor@sflegalguide.com GUEST CONTRIBUTORS EDWARD BLUMBERG ROBERT BROCHIN DORI FOSTER-MORALES AMY FURNESS JOSHUA KAYE SUSAN MCCULLOUGH MARK MELAND FRANCISCO RAMOS JAMES SHINDELL MICHELLE SUSKAUER

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SOUTH FLORIDA LEGAL GUIDE - BM Volume 2, Number 6, 2018 This is an independent supplement by South Florida Legal Guide Mailing address P.O. Box 630428, Miami, FL 33163. All rights reserved. All titles registered and may not be used without permission. Reproduction in whole or in part of any text, photograph or illustration without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. The South Florida Legal Guide makes no guarantee regarding the accuracy of information presented, results reported, or safety of products or activities described herein. The publisher notifies readers that the hiring of a professional is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements. Before you decide, ask the professional to send you free written information about qualifications and experience. Contact: info@sflegalguide.com or call: (786) 879-7638 • www.sflegalguide.com

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THE FLORIDA BAR’S INCOMING PRESIDENT A Conversation with Michelle Suskauer About Issues Facing Attorneys On June 15, The Florida Bar will install its newest president, Michelle Suskauer, marking the sixth time in Bar history that a woman will take the helm of the organization that regulates the more than 106,000 attorneys licensed to practice in Florida. As a Palm Beach-based criminal defense attorney – and the first former public defender to lead the Bar – she is uniquely positioned to advocate for the profession, the courts and Florida citizens. She recently sat down with South Florida Legal Guide to discuss the issues confronting the legal profession and how The Florida Bar is working to address them. Q. What do you hope to accomplish as The Florida Bar’s next president? This is a critical time for the legal profession, our judicial system and the communities we serve. Our courts are seriously underfunded; access to justice is still out of reach for 4 out of 5 citizens; and many of our members struggle to grow their business in the face of today’s competitive landscape.  As Florida Bar President, I want to continue to increase communications with members and among members to build relationships so we can work together to strengthen our bar, empower our members to be excellent and efficient advocates, and encourage each other to be healthy and happy. We are a family, connected by our profession, and we need each

other to be better lawyers. I also want to look for practical solutions to ensure the independence of our courts; expand access to justice through technology and pro bono involvement; encourage a more inclusive and diverse profession; deliver benefits and services that can help our members grow; and increase the public’s trust and confidence in our legal system. These are lofty goals and we have a lot of work ahead, but if I can help make people’s lives even a little bit better and leave the Bar in a better place than I found it, then I will have made an impact.   Q. You mentioned prioritizing helping members in the face of today’s competitive landscape. In what ways can the Bar provide greater support? A major focus this year will be on how to help our members be more productive and profitable, particularly our solo and small firm practitioners. In fact, 76 percent of Florida Bar members practicing within the state work alone or at firms with 10 attorneys or less.  As a longtime small-firm practitioner, and as someone who previously operated my own firm for 18 years, I know the stress of managing a practice while keeping the lights on. I want to help our members find greater balance, while also giving them tools to help alleviate some of the daily pressures they face.

Our practice resource center is being improved as LegalFuel, a resource to help all members manage the business side of law. The site, which will have specific resources for small and solo practitioners, will be complete with practice management advisors who can answer questions, free of charge, on everything ranging from how to manage employee benefits and negotiate a lease to marketing a practice and building a social media presence. It will also host a variety of free CLEs on similar topics so that members can focus more on what they love to do, which is the actual practice of law. A highlight of the year ahead is a planned LegalFuel Speaker Series featuring well-known and respected Florida lawyers talking about meaningful, useful topics including Cybersecurity for Solo, Small, and Big Firms, 10 Ways to Avoid a Grievance, and How to Take Your Practice to the Next Level. Q. You have made criminal justice reform a priority during your term. Why is that and what can the Bar do to help in this regard? Our state has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, yet lacks proper funding and staffing resources. The result is a system based on punishment as opposed to rehabilitation, which does nothing to reduce crime or recidivism.  As the first former public

defender to lead the Bar, and as a criminal defense attorney, I have worked within the criminal justice system my entire career. I have witnessed its challenges first-hand and am intimately aware of the complexities involved. The Bar will hold a Criminal Justice Summit October 16-17 in Tampa, with the goal of proposing legislation that can help bring reform. During the 2018 legislative session, time ran out before criminal justice reforms could be passed. Hopefully the summit will help move legislation forward swiftly during the next session of the Florida Legislature.   Q. You are the 70th Bar President, but only the sixth female to assume this role, putting you in a unique position to speak about gender equality. What meaningful steps is the Bar taking on this issue? Like most traditionally male-dominated industries, our profession still has a long way to go to solve gender inequity. Recent data from the American Bar Association suggests that women are leaving the profession at faster rates, with women over 50 now making up only 27% of lawyers at firms. Women need to see other women rising the ranks successfully, to know they can too, without sacrificing personal or family obligations. Yet this disheartening data suggests that women

MICHELLE SUSKAUER just starting out are losing their female role models and advocates. At the same time, we know that gender bias and discrimination hasn’t gone away. This year the Bar will implement recommendations made by its Special Committee on Gender Equality & Diversity, including a confidential grievance process to report instances inappropriate behavior, and a ‘blue ribbon’ designation to recognize firms that prioritize hiring, promoting and retaining female lawyers. Q. You have spoken about helping members find balance. With so many demands and pressures, how will you find balance this year?

As a working mother, it has always been a challenge to try to “do it all.” But, I know the importance of reaching out for help from my family, friends and community. While it is paramount to me to do the best I can in every situation or effort, I also know I need to rely on the Board of Governors, other Bar leaders including section and committee chairs, and the Florida Bar staff to help me meet the demands of the Bar presidency. At the same time, I am fortunate to have the support of my law partners at Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein who are great sources of encouragement and whose sacrifices will allow me to dedicate so much of my time and energy to leading our bar.

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Addressing Mental Health Issues in the Legal Profession BY DORI FOSTER-MORALES

Like other professionals, attorneys face stressful situations almost every day. It might be walking into a courtroom for a trial, negotiating with the other side’s counsel, dealing with client concerns or internal office issues. Of course, that doesn’t include the pressures from family members, friends and colleagues outside the legal world. But rather than address these personal and professional pressures, most attorneys are encouraged to tamp them down to avoid showing any sign of “weakness.” After all, an attorney who cultivates a reputation as a tenacious legal bulldog probably finds it hard to admit to internal feelings of fear and uncertainty. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that recent studies indicate that the suicide rate for lawyers is double the average rate or that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from depression than nonlawyers. In addition, the American Bar Association (ABA) has estimated that 18 percent of all U.S. lawyers suffer from problem drinking – double the national average.

A NEW INITIATIVE Recognizing the extent of the problem, The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors last year created a Special Com-

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mittee on Mental Health and Wellness of Florida Lawyers with myself as chair. This May, the board unanimously agreed to make this a standing committee to continue this high-priority mental health initiative. In establishing the committee last year, the Bar set the following five priorities: • Destigmatize mental illness in the legal community (lawyers and judges) • Educate employers, judges and lawyers how to identify and address mental health illness of Florida lawyers and create “best practices” on how to address mental health issues • Educate lawyers about the benefits of balancing personal life and career obligations • Provide wellness programs to provide Florida lawyers with healthy strategies to deal with the pressures of their practices to enhance the mental health and wellness of Florida lawyers • Create a special, inter-disciplinary committee to study and improve the Florida Bar’s rules and

programming related to mental health and wellness As 2017-18 President Michael J. Higer wrote in a The Florida Bar Journal, “Mental health issues touch all of us in every facet of our legal community — from solo small firm practitioners, who make up approximately 76 percent of the lawyers in Florida, to lawyers who practice in the public sector to lawyers who practice with large law firms, as well as law students. All of us face daily pressures and stresses that compromise our overall mental and physical health. If we are not healthy, it affects the health of our justice system. It is, thus, critical for each of us, but also the public we serve, that we focus on the health and wellness of our lawyers.”

CHANGING THE CULTURE It’s not easy to change the culture of “toughness,” instilled in attorneys at every stage of their education and careers. Nevertheless, there are already signs of progress in overcoming the discomfort that lawyers have in speaking about their emotional struggles

and their need for assistance. In the past year, there has been an outpouring of interest in the work of the special committee, which underscores the urgent need for solutions to the issues plaguing Florida’s legal community. Our committee has held town hall meetings to engage Bar members, hosted a symposium on mental health and wellness, and created a seminar program to educate managing partners and administrators on how to address these issues in their firms. But this is just the beginning. Planned future steps will include increasing access to mental health professionals, well-being and career coaches, as well as lawyer support groups, mobile apps and wellness blogs. Attorneys can also benefit from healthy food delivery services, gym memberships, and the use of standing desks to improve their physical health. Clearly, it will take a long-term, concerted effort to address the mental health challenges facing legal professionals. Removing the stigma

DORI FOSTER-MORALES associated with seeking health may well be the most important step forward. Attorneys should be able to take comfort in expressing normal human feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration and insecurity in a confidential, therapeutic setting. It’s like seeing a doctor for ongoing treatment of a

Taking action to improve mental health and wellness can have a positive ripple effect on an attorney’s family clients, friends, family members and the entire judicial system.

chronic physical disease. It’s not just legal professionals who can benefit from addressing the daily stresses and enhancing the personal satisfaction of their careers. Taking action to improve mental health and wellness can have a positive ripple effect on an attorney’s family clients, friends, family members and the entire judicial system. Board certified in marital and family law, Dori Foster-Morales is a founding partner at Foster∙Morales Sockel∙Stone, LLC in Miami.


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New Residential Development Focuses on Infill Locations BY MARK S. MELAND

From multimillion-dollar waterfront estates to new condominiums and apartments, South Florida’s residential development focuses on infill locations. In contrast, new commercial projects are underway in both suburban and urban locations, depending on land costs and availability, as well as local market conditions. In Miami-Dade, new rental apartments are being developed in Wynwood and Hialeah, as well as other urban communities. In the next few years, that residential redevelopment is likely to grow in close-in neighborhoods like Little Haiti and Allapattah with relatively low land prices. There are two primary reasons for this trend. First, the region’s traffic congestion is causing more residents to choose locations closer to their jobs

to avoid spending hours behind the wheel each day. Residential parcels near the new Brightline rail station in downtown Miami and along the Metrorail line are drawing the attention of investors looking to capitalize on the shift toward transit oriented development (TOD). However, the wave of new condominium projects in downtown Miami and Brickell appears to be slowing, as there is an oversupply of units for rent, unlike most areas of Miami-Dade where residential inventory remains tight. In the single-family sector, older residences in prime waterfront locations are being replaced by larger, modern homes with high-end amenities, features and finishes. The same trend is occurring in interior lots at significantly lower price points.

On Miami Beach, some new homes are being built at higher elevations than surrounding properties, reflecting the threat of sea level rise in the future. However, lenders are still providing 30-year mortgages on coastal homes and flood insurance is readily available. While residential buyers and investors are thinking more about flood zones and elevations, they will continue to seek out attractive properties in South Florida’s subtropical paradise. On the commercial side, retail owners and investors are finding new uses for shopping centers and empty “big box” buildings. In some cases, single-tenant properties are being converted to smaller, multi-tenant retail centers. In northwest Miami-Dade, the American Dream mall will be a new re-

gional destination for residents and visitors. Elsewhere in South Florida, malls and shopping centers are adding new restaurants, entertainment and lifestyle tenants to counteract the consumer shift toward online retail sites. Gyms, movie theaters and outpatient health services are among the new tenants being courted by property owners. Industrial and warehouse properties in Miami-Dade and Broward continue to attract U.S. and international investors. The key drivers are the growing need for online retail distribution space, as well as the region’s strategic location as a gateway for shipping products to Latin America and the Caribbean. Looking ahead, South Florida is likely to remain an appealing market for individual and institutional investors from around the world.

MARK S. MELAND Mark S. Meland focuses his practice on real estate and corporate services as a founding partner of Meland Russin & Budwick in Miami.

No Sign of a Let-up in South Florida’s Real Estate Run BY JAMES W. SHINDELL

South Florida’s commercial real estate markets have enjoyed a strong run for nearly a decade. Although it is rather late in a typical market cycle, there is little sign of a let-up in sales, leasing, investment and lending activity. Why has the region seen such a prolonged expansion? First of all, metropolitan Miami is one of a handful of large U.S. cities that continues to grow in population. A steady increase in residents, combined with millions of visitors every year, offers an appealing demographic foundation for commercial real estate players. A second reason is the continued availability of both debt and equity financing. In the global low-rate environment, real estate assets offer an

appealing combination of security, income and the potential for appreciation for U.S. and international investors. In general, U.S. lenders have learned from their past excesses and taken a more disciplined approach to financing real estate investments. Commercial banks have been active in providing fixed- and floating-rate loans, although most are more interested in financing stabilized properties than making construction loans. For new developments, a number of debt funds with readily available capital have been active participants in the construction sector. While their rates might be somewhat higher than a commercial bank, the benefit of obtaining financing on a non-recourse basis is attractive to

many developers. In addition, mezzanine funding is also available to bridge gaps between the construction financing and the developer equity. While financing real estate investments is very achievable in today’s market, the overall demand for real estate assets has pushed prices upward and there is often a sizeable gap in the bid/ask for purchase price. That may limit the number of transactions in the coming year. As of mid-year, industrial and logistics properties are leading the commercial sector in terms of attracting institutional capital. Even older industrial properties in close-in locations are in demand for repositioning opportunities to provide “last mile” inventory

storage and delivery for online retailing companies. On the other hand, the high cost of land and construction is limiting new office development in Brickell, downtown Miami and Coral Gables. That has made existing Class A buildings more appealing to investors seeking high-quality core assets. For office developers, there may be opportunities for smaller-scale projects in suburban locations or northward along the coast in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Barring an external shock, South Florida’s commercial real estate markets are well positioned for continued strong performance in 2019. Sound fundamentals and the region’s growing economy

JAMES W. SHINDELL will continue to attract investment capital from around the world. James W. Shindell is a partner at Bilzin Sumberg and chair of the firm’s Real Estate Practice Group.

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Law Firms Expanding Their Practice Groups BY RICHARD WESTLUND

Many South Florida law firms are expanding their counseling, transaction and litigation services, bringing in lateral partners and hiring associates to serve a growing client base. In mid-year interviews with South Florida Legal Guide, the managing partners at several leading firms expressed optimism about the future. “South Florida continues to be a dynamic region attracting capital and investors from around the world,” said Joshua Kaye, managing partner, DLA Piper’s Miami office. “As a global law firm, we assist clients deploying capital in South Florida or elsewhere.”

CARLTON FIELDS Carlton Fields’ growth plans include building its real estate, healthcare, tax, corporate and white-collar practice areas, according to Amy E. Furness, co-managing shareholder of the Miami office. “We are interested in lateral recruiting, bringing in individuals or teams that would be a good fit for our firm,” she said. Currently, the Miami office has about 100 attorneys and 100 staff members, as well as three summer associates. In real estate, the firm is looking to add attorneys experienced in both transac-

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tions and litigation. “We are also talking with healthcare attorneys who are experienced in advising hospitals and other providers, working with acquisitions, as well as litigators on the defense side who can complement our statewide team,” Furness said. Like other managing partners, Furness notes that advances in technology, particularly the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) applications is changing how law firms serve their clients. “The way we practice today is different than it was even five years ago,” she said. “We help our clients identify efficiencies in how we can serve their needs as alternatives to the traditional billable hour.”

JOSHUA KAYE

AMY E. FURNESS

ROBERT “BOBBY” BROCHIN

FRANCISCO “FRANK” RAMOS

MORGAN LEWIS Complex litigation is one of the strengths of Morgan Lewis’ Miami office, says Robert “Bobby” Brochin, managing partner. “We are seeing growth in our labor-related litigation practice, including ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility, whistleblowers, discrimination and sexual harassment claims,” he said. “The metoo# movement is hitting the workplace here and across the country, and we are adding to our team to respond to our clients.”


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Law Firms Picking up Lateral Partners Brochin has also seen growth in class-action defense cases, such as consumer claims against retailers and financial institutions. “We are very busy with that work here in Florida and nationally as well,” he said. “We are also proud of our pro bono contributions to issues involving Florida children.” Another growth area involves defense litigation related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the False Claims Act involving government contractors. Brochin said the office, which now has 25 attorneys will be around 30 by year’s end. “We use technology to collaborate on cases,” Brochin said. “It allows our team to handle a class action in Ohio, as well as one in Florida.”

CLARKE SILVERGLATE A longtime defense firm, Clarke Silverglate P.A. is growing its commercial litigation, product liability, and employment practices, according to Francisco “Frank” Ramos, managing partner. “More and more clients trust us with matters that may affect their future viability,” said. “Clients today want superior results at lower, more predictable cost. This model keeps our phones ringing.” Ramos said the firm is growing at a measured pace in response to client demand. That includes one new associate and a partner-level

attorney, with additional lawyers coming aboard before year-end. ““Our client roster and reputation for providing superior work product in a supportive, collegial, and mentoring environment helps us attract top-notch legal talent,” he said.

DLA PIPER Since opening in 2012 with seven attorneys, DLA Piper’s Miami office has grown rapidly to approximately 50 attorneys. The firm has already added new partners and associates and expects to bring in more professionals later this year. “Lateral growth is in DLA Piper’s DNA,” Kaye said. “Our firm’s very existence was the result of multiple law firms merging for the greater good of their respective client bases.” The continued growth of the Miami office includes corporate, tax, real estate and litigation practices, Kay added. The firm’s professionals are increasingly offering strategic leadership and industry experience in fields such as healthcare and life sciences, private equity, and matters relating to the LatAm/Caribbean regions. “We have a culture driven by success as a global business law firm, while making a difference in the communities in which our offices operate,” Kaye said. “That is a winning formula.”

HEATHER MCCULLOUGH

Throughout the U.S., law firms are recruiting experienced attorneys as lateral hires, according to consultant Heather McCullough, a partner at Society 54. The benefits can include quickly growing the firm’s client base, increasing revenue, and creating opportunities to deliver services in additional practice areas. However, only 54 percent of lateral hires turned out to be a breakeven proposition, said McCullough in a May 16 talk to the Legal Marketing Association’s South Florida group at Kobre & Kim, LLP. “You should understand your objectives for hiring a lateral and have a clear strategic purpose,” McCullough said. “You should also conduct due diligence on each candidate, be sure the attorney is a good fit for the firm’s culture, and provide appropriate support during the onboarding process.” McCullough emphasized the importance of analyzing a number of factors before making a hire, including the candidate’s ability to deliver more revenue, as well as the cost of support personal and services. “You want to obtain a full financial disclosure from each candidate,” she added. “You also want to find out why they are leaving the current firm and their long-term professional goals.” Once a new lateral joins the firm, McCullough said it’s important to set achievable goals and integrate the new partner into the firm’s existing practice groups. That might include in-person meeting with clients, as well as attorneys and staffers throughout the firm. “Don’t hire people based on your gut feelings,” she said. “You should also carefully evaluate serial laterals who have moved multiple times. Finally, don’t focus on your laterals at the expense of your current attorneys. Give them plenty of attention as well.”

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Self-Driving Vehicles Raise Liability Concerns BY EDWARD R. BLUMBERG

As the pace of technology innovation accelerates, we should all be mindful of the law of unintended consequences. Take the Internet for example. It’s doubtful that the World Wide Web developers in the 1990s anticipated the identity theft problems of the 21st century. Nor did cell phone manufacturers of that era take precautions to prevent traffic accidents caused by texting drivers. The same principle is likely to be applied to one of the most revolutionary advances in technology: the introduction of autonomous or “self-driving” vehicles guided by artificial intelligence (AI). There is no question that self-driving vehicles can make life easier for millions of Americans, including individuals with disabilities that keep them from driving. However, this advance will also create safety and liability issues for owners, operators and passengers, as demonstrated by the recent death of a pedestrian struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle in Arizona.

MINIMIZING RESPONSIBILITY FOR HARM The State of Florida has long recognized the dangers of operating an automobile, whose size and speed give it tremendous destructive power. In a landmark ruling from

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1920 – Southern Cotton Oil Co. v. Anderson (88 Fla 441) – the Florida Supreme Court upheld a $7,500 verdict to the injured plaintiff, stating: “A motor vehicle operated on the public highways is a dangerous instrumentality, and the owner who entrusts it to another to operate is liable for injury caused to others by the negligence of the person to whom it is entrusted.” For many decades, that ruling guided Florida courts in determining liability and assessing damages for plaintiffs in automotive cases. However, legislative lobbying efforts by business groups on the state and national level have stripped away some of the potential remedies for victims and their families in motor vehicle accidents. In Florida today, there is a cap on the damages that the non-negligent owner of a non-commercial vehicle would have to pay in the event of a serious accident. Often times, the driver has insufficient liability insurance coverage leaving an injured person (or family members of a deceased person) facing a cap on damages and limited recovery from the owner. The situation is even worse when it comes to rental cars. Under the federal Graves Amendment, a non-negligent rental car company would only be

liable for a maximum of $10,000 for an accident involving its vehicles. Imagine the situation of an injured pedestrian facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills trying to collect from a negligent, uninsured foreign driver who is no longer in the United States. Current motor vehicle liability laws are skewed against the victim. The complexities of who is responsible for the operation of an autonomous vehicle have the potential of, from a practical standpoint, making it virtually impossible for a victim to recover damages.

WHO WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE? Looking ahead, the debut of self-driving vehicles at some point in the future is likely to complicate the tangled web of safety-related liability issues. After all, there are more parties involved in the process of driving the autonomous car. That means it will be much more difficult to determine just what went wrong in a fatal collision or serious crash, and determine who was responsible for the accident. For instance, • Was there a product defect in the vehicle produced by the manufacturer, such as a poorly designed brake pad?

• Was there a problem with an aftermarket technology product, such as a navigation system? • Did the vehicle’s self-driving application malfunction and did the software developer cause the problem? • Was the latest software installed correctly in the vehicle? • Was there an error on a computer chip made in another country? • Did the sensors in the car transmitting visual information back to the data malfunction? • Was there a delay in the satellite transmission of that data? • Did lack of maintenance contribute to the accident? • What if a hacker were to take control of the vehicle or kidnap the riders? All of these issues need to be considered when assessing what went wrong in a motor vehicle accident and which parties’ actions caused or contributed to a life-ending or life-altering tragedy. Existing law on product liability is not sufficient to cover all of these potential scenarios of fault.

A CHALLENGING SITUATION From a practical point of view, it will certainly be more time consuming and expensive for both plaintiffs and defendants to resolve the key legal issues of liability. One can picture the jury in courtroom

EDWARD R. BLUMBERG – years after an accident occurred – as they grapple with conflicting testimony from dozens of expert witnesses on who was at fault in a crash. Certainly, self-driving vehicles can have a positive impact on many aspects of Americans’ lives. Instances of drunk driving, for instance, might plunge, along with the stress levels of millions of commuters who could utilize their mobile devices while being driven. Nevertheless, before autonomous vehicles are unleashed on our roadways, civic leaders, transportation experts, lawyers,

and consumer safety representatives need to analyze the risks, as well as the benefits and establish a workable framework of liability assessment for accidents and injuries involving self-driving vehicles. While there are no guarantees in life, accountability for safety must be the top priority for all parties in this new technology sector. Edward R. Blumberg focuses his practice on personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability cases at Deutsch Blumberg & Caballero, P.A. in Miami.

SFLG - MHBM June 4 2018  

South Florida Legal Guide June 4th 2018 Edition

SFLG - MHBM June 4 2018  

South Florida Legal Guide June 4th 2018 Edition