Friday, January 5, 2018

If I Am Hit by an Uber Driver, Whom Can I Sue?

In recent years, ride sharing applications like Lyft and Uber have become widely popular and a huge number of Floridians use them. These convenient apps make it easy for users to hail a ride exactly when and where they need it. They even hold the potential to reduce drunk driving and reduce traffic pollution by increasing the number of carpoolers. But certain legal complications come along with every new technology, and Uber is no exception. If an Uber hit you or a loved one, an experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorney can help you identify all responsible parties and potential sources of compensation. Injury victims across southern Florida have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect their legal rights over the past 46 years.

Who Is Liable for an Uber Accident?

An accident involving an Uber vehicle does not change the rules of liability, but it can complicate them. As with any auto accident, the insurance carriers for the involved drivers will conduct investigations to determine fault for the accident. A negligent Uber driver has a legal obligation to compensate victims for injuries caused by the accident, and the driver’s insurance carrier has a contractual obligation to pay for these losses. In such a case, the rideshare company itself may also face liability for the accident, especially when the company fails to properly screen drivers with dangerous driving histories or criminal convictions. Plaintiffs can also establish liability if a rideshare company fails to properly train its drivers, or enforce important safety policies.
Whether a ride share service may face liability for an accident caused by one of its drivers depends on the facts of a particular car accident—so injury victims need the advice of an experienced auto accident attorney who can advocate for their legal interests even when the presence of an Uber vehicle complicates the process.
Car accident victims find many reasons why rideshare vehicle involvement in their accidents can make winning full and fair compensation for their injuries more difficult. Like any new area of the law, lawyers may not easily predict how a court will rule on issues it has not faced before. Clear statutes do not yet define the extent of liability for rideshare companies. Many rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors, not employees, may have an effect on liability, but even that is uncertain. Two different judges could reach two different answers in two similar cases. Liability waivers can also complicate issues of liability. Rideshare users agree to certain terms and conditions, but this does not excuse all gross negligence and criminal conduct of rideshare drivers. Furthermore, rideshare companies cannot always enforce terms and conditions in later legal actions. This, too, may result in different outcomes in different cases.
When an Uber (or Lyft, or any other rideshare) vehicle is involved in an accident, however, more involved parties might face liability for damages. This creates some wiggle room for other drivers’ insurance companies to argue that they should not cover all of a victim’s losses. Uber still requires that claims go through its drivers’ personal auto insurance policies first. This can leave victims unable to easily obtain compensation for their injuries.

What if I Am Hit by a Self-Driving Uber?

Self-driving vehicles are also becoming more prevalent on Florida roads. Delivery services, trucking companies, and rideshare services are all attempting to improve safety with automated driving technologies. Some states have allowed testing of self-driving Ubers on a restricted basis.
When a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident, this, too, is a scenario that complicates—but does not change—the rules of liability. Clear statutes do not yet impose liability for accidents involving automated vehicles or driving features. But certain established doctrines of liability can apply to these situations. For example, vehicle manufacturers can face liability for negligently designed or manufactured features or vehicles. A self-driving vehicle or automated driving feature that malfunctions, or operates unsafely in a particular traffic situation, could constitute negligent design. The manufacturer of the automated feature would, therefore, face liability for any injuries caused by an accident resulting from the malfunction.
Similarly, an unsafe technology can impose liability on any company or individual responsible for ultimately putting it on the road. Thus, an unsafe automated driving function could result in liability for the manufacturer, the distributer, the advertiser, the broker, the dealership, or even the rideshare service that purchased the vehicle and put it into service. The potential for so many defendants can complicate the determination of liability for an accident. It can also, however, allow an injury victim to access different sources of compensation.
The uncertainty of liability for self-driving car accidents also poses additional risks for injury victims who choose to take their claims to trial. In a traditional car accident, an attorney can advise the victim how juries have ruled on similar cases in the past. With self-driving car accidents, the technology is new, and cases resulting from them present juries with issues that they have not been seen before. This makes the outcome of trials far less certain for victims of self-driving auto accidents than traditional auto accidents.

The Right Legal Representation for Your Uber Accident Claim

Uber may offer a new kind of service, but experienced personal injury attorneys will find the legal issues presented by auto accident claims familiar to them. The Dolman Law Group has more than 46 years of experience protecting the rights of injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg. Injury victims across southern Florida trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal experience, and superior customer service. Call (727) 222-6922 or write to us through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with a car accident attorney today.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Birth Injury?

The birth of a child is supposed to bring joy to parents and families alike. But when health care providers behave in a negligent manner while in the delivery room, serious and potentially catastrophic birth defects and irreversible birth injuries can result. Birth injuries may also take place due to inexperienced delivery room health care providers.
If you suspect that your child sustained a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, the law may limit your time to take action. The knowledgeable St. Petersburg birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group will explore all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your child’s birth. Although no amount of money can truly compensate someone for a lifelong birth injury, our knowledgeable team of attorneys can explore all of the legal options you may have open to you. Our attorneys have litigated birth injury and wrongful death cases for many years, and have the necessary medical knowledge and legal expertise to represent you at every stage of your case.

Responsibility for a Child’s Birth Injury

No two birth injury cases are the same, and many medical professionals may have caused a child’s birth injuries. In some cases, a birth injury takes place naturally and involves pregnancy complications or a difficult labor. However, if the birth injury stems directly from a health care provider’s carelessness, negligence, inaction, or inexperience—especially in the delivery room—you may recover monetary compensation. The most likely medical professionals whom you can deem responsible for a child’s birth injury include:
  • Delivery rooms doctors (that is, the obstetricians)
  • Delivery room nurses
  • Other delivery room personnel
  • Hospital staff
All of these individuals could face full or partial responsibility for a child’s birth injuries.

Common Causes of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries

Common causes of St. Petersburg birth injuries take place at the hands of negligent delivery room doctors and nurses, including:
  • Improper delivery room techniques
  • Improper monitoring of a fetus’s heart rate
  • Delayed C-sections
  • Improperly performed C-sections
  • Delayed oxygen to the fetus’s brain
  • Improper delivery room tools and other equipment, such as forceps
  • Improper administration of delivery room drugs to the mother
  • Improper or inadequate monitoring of delivery room patients
  • Failing to abide by proper delivery room rules and procedures

Types of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries

When delivery room doctors, nurses, and hospital staff do not abide by proper delivery room protocols, serious child birth injuries can result. These birth injuries may include injuries to the baby’s skull, cerebral palsy, hypoxia (resulting from a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain), irreversible brain damage, or wrongful death.

Making a Timely Claim

If you suspect that your child sustained a serious birth injury at the hands of a negligent obstetrician or other health care provider, the law leaves you with a limited window of time during which you can file a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice against the negligent health care provider. You must ordinarily file a medical malpractice claim within two years of the date on which you should reasonably have discovered the birth injury. Moreover, Florida’s statute of repose prohibits filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit more than four years from the date on which the child sustained the birth injury.
Finally, children born after July 1, 1996, may not file birth injury claims or lawsuits until after they turn eighteen. This extended statute of limitations deadline may not apply in cases where the child’s parents or legal guardians knew or should have known that the birth injury was likely caused by a negligent health care provider’s medical malpractice.
The knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group can meet all filing deadlines in timely manners, retain and designate the proper experts, and fully satisfy all statutes of limitation.

Filing a Lawsuit and Litigating a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Case

Florida birth injuries fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice or obstetrical malpractice. In a medical malpractice case, the injured person (or the injured person’s representative) has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the healthcare provider, as well as the extent of the injuries and damages sustained.
In Florida birth injury cases, health care providers are generally held to the standard of care of a reasonable physician/obstetrician who acts under the same or similar circumstances. A delivery room doctor who breaches—or violates—this high standard of care by failing to act in a reasonable manner may face full or partial responsibility for the child’s birth injuries and other damages. Injured plaintiffs (or their representatives) must also show that the negligent health care provider’s breach of the applicable standard of care directly resulted in injuries and damages. In other words, those damages would not have taken place but for the health care provider’s negligence.
In a birth injury case, damages may include cognitive impairments, such as developmental disabilities, growth deficiencies, learning disabilities, and other potentially lifelong problems.
In a St. Petersburg birth injury case, the injured child may recover compensation for related medical bills and treatments—including monetary compensation for a lifetime of pain, suffering, inconvenience, and future care.

Call a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you suspect that your child sustained serious birth injuries as a result of a delivery room doctor or other health care provider’s negligence, Florida law may entitle your child to monetary compensation. The St. Petersburg, Florida, personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are prepared to negotiate or litigate your case through the Florida court system, if necessary. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a St. Petersburg birth injury lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.

Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Friday, December 29, 2017

Reminder: Watch out for the No-Zones Around Large Trucks

Large blind spots, long stopping distances, and wide turn radiuses can make large trucks and tractor trailers hazardous. As such, drivers must know these limitations when they operate their motor vehicles on St. Petersburg roadways. In some instances, however, accidents still take place as a result of a truck driver’s negligence. For example, the truck driver may not properly calculate a stop or turn distance or radius, bringing about a serious collision with a smaller motor vehicle.
Truck accidents can result in serious and catastrophic injuries and damages, including permanent disabilities that may require long-term care and medical treatments. If you or a loved one sustained a serious injury in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Florida law may entitle you to pursue monetary compensation under the law. The experienced St. Petersburg truck accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case, negotiate with the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer on your behalf, or litigate your case through the court system if necessary.
No Zones and Other Potentially Hazardous Areas
Commercial truck drivers have extremely limited visibility—large blind spots oftentimes referred to as no zones—around the front, back, and sides of their long vehicles. Other motor vehicle drivers should do their best to stay out of these hazardous areas.
Large commercial trucks also require longer following distances than most smaller vehicles. As a general rule, if you cannot see the truck’s side view mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. Similarly, drivers should take care when passing large trucks due to the truck driver’s limited visibility, and should take particular care to stay out of a truck driver’s blind spots when a truck turns, backs up, or changes lanes on busy highways or roadways.
Negligent St. Petersburg Truck Drivers
No matter how careful motorists drive around commercial trucks, serious accidents and injuries can still take place. Drivers of large, heavy, and fast trucks and tractor-trailers can cause serious accidents and personal injuries when they ignore or violate Florida Rules of the Road. Common examples of St. Petersburg truck driver negligence include:
  • Speeding
  • Reckless, careless, or distracted driving
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs (DUID)
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Failing to maintain proper turning distances
  • Failing to see smaller vehicles on the road
  • Cutting curves too sharply
  • Fatigued driving
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Abrupt lane changes
  • Driving too fast for hazardous road conditions
  • Failing to take the proper precautions while backing up
  • Failing to abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations

When truck drivers fail to operate their trucks in safe, careful, and reasonably prudent ways, serious accidents and injuries can result—including rear-end accidents; multi-vehicle, chain-reaction collisions; tractor or trailer overturns; chemical waste spills; or trailer cargo dislodging from the trailer onto the roadway.
Parties Responsible for Truck Accidents
When truck and tractor-trailer drivers operate their vehicles in negligent ways, victims can obviously hold them responsible, firsthand, for the injuries and damages they cause. However, if the trucker drove negligently while in the scope of employment with a trucking company, the trucking company could face secondary liability for the accident—as well as for any injuries and damages sustained.
A trucking company may also face responsibility for negligently entrusting the truck driver to operate a motor vehicle while on the roadway, for negligently supervising the truck driver, or for negligently hiring or retaining the truck driver—especially if the truck driver is a repeat offender or has a bad driving record.
Common Injuries in St. Petersburg Truck Accidents
A truck or tractor trailer’s large size and high rate of speed can cause catastrophic injuries. Common injuries sustained in St. Petersburg truck accidents include:
-Broken bones
-Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
-Serious cuts, abrasions, and permanent scars
These catastrophic injuries can result in:
  • Lengthy hospital stays
  • Long courses of medical treatments or physical therapy
  • Future medical procedures
  • Long-term care at nursing homes or other assisted living facilities

All of these damages entitle victims to full compensation under the law. An accident victim who sustained permanent injuries and damages in the truck accident may have to work at a lighter duty job—or change professions altogether because of a sudden inability to meet the physical demands of a particular job. Similarly, the accident victim may not play sports, engage in recreational activities, or spend time with family to the same extent as before the accident. Florida law entitles victims to compensation for all of the inconvenience, permanency, and lost quality of life associated with accident injuries and damages.
Contact a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation
Proving a truck accident case can require the services of expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists who can determine what caused a particular accident. Moreover, some insurance companies will even try to allege that the injured accident victim caused or contributed to the accident, such as by following the truck too closely or driving in a no-zone. When that happens, you need a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side who can advocate for all of your legal rights. The truck accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can advocate at both the negotiating table and in the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Is Failing to Use Headlights in Poor Weather Negligent?

Failing to use headlights in bad St. Petersburg weather can amount to negligence under the law. When a driver’s negligence directly results in an accident, along with personal injuries and damages, the accident victim may recover monetary damages and other compensation directly from the negligent driver. If the negligent driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are different people, the owner may also potentially face liability.
If you or someone you love sustained personal injuries and damages in a St. Petersburg motor vehicle accident, Florida law may entitle you to recover monetary compensation. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and may pursue monetary recovery on your behalf, via settlement or, if necessary, jury trial.
Florida Wet Weather Laws
Under the Florida Statutes, “every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices…under the following conditions: …During any rain, smoke or fog….” Therefore, if a driver fails to turn on headlights and a motor vehicle accident results, that driver may face negligence claims.
If you did not turn on your headlights at the time of the accident, your insurance company may try to say that you caused—or at least contributed—to the accident, and that you are not entitled to any monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. Therefore, always pay attention to your vehicle’s settings and make sure that even your automatic headlights will illuminate you and your way. The temperamental Florida weather, especially in the summer, can bring a bright rain shower, during which time your headlights may not auto-illuminate.
Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver
If another driver caused your accident by failing to turn on headlights in bad weather, you may file a claim or lawsuit against that other driver. To prevail in a negligence case against that other driver, you must show that the other driver failed to act as a reasonable person by violating a traffic law.
Assuming you file a claim against the at-fault driver and the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may pay for some or all of your damages. Damages in a car accident case may include all related medical bills, treatments, lost wages, and non-economic damages, up to the limits of coverage on the subject insurance policy.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle
In some cases, the driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are not the same person. The vehicle owner may have given the at-fault driver permission to drive the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, or the at-fault driver might work for the vehicle owner. Unlike every other state in the country, Florida law imposes strict vicarious liability on an individual who lends a motor vehicle to someone else and who, thereafter, causes a collision. Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, the motor vehicle owner can face liability for the accident simply by owing the at-fault vehicle. In many instances, the police report contains the at-fault vehicle owner’s name.
In cases where an employer owns a motor vehicle and allows an employee to drive it during off time, Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine still lets victims hold the employer responsible for an employee’s negligent driving—and for causing a collision. This is true even in cases where the employer specifically directed the employee to use the vehicle only for work-related purposes.
Injuries and Damages Sustained in St. Petersburg Car Accident Cases
A driver who operates a motor vehicle without headlights in bad weather can make visibility of the vehicle much harder—if not impossible. This is especially true when the at-fault vehicle (that is, the vehicle without illuminated headlights) drives on the highway, makes a turn, or drives through a traffic intersection.
When these accidents take place at high rates of speed, serious accidents and injuries can result. Common injuries sustained in high-speed car accidents include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), muscular sprains and strains, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death. To recover monetary damages in a St. Petersburg car accident case, the injured accident victim must prove that the accident caused an injury.
Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation
When car accidents result from negligent actions or inactions, such as failing to turn on headlights, serious injuries can result. When no witnesses saw an accident, demonstrating fault can sometimes prove difficult—in those cases, juries must weigh one person’s word against the other’s. In some cases, plaintiffs must retain an expert witness, such as accident reconstructionist, who may piece together the accident and determine how it happened.
The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you prove the liability and damage elements of your case and can safeguard all of your legal rights while your case progresses. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators, and they can represent you at every stage of your personal injury car accident case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Truck Drivers and Drug Use Lead to Injuries

Truck driving is a challenging and stressful job. Unfortunately, the stressful conditions of this industry lead many truck drivers to abuse alcohol, drugs, and other substances. Reuters reports that one study found U.S. truck drivers to have the highest rate of positive alcohol tests worldwide. Studies also suggested that, while estimates vary widely, overall the use of mind-altering substances is high among truck drivers, and linked to poor working conditions.

If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a truck driver, you have important legal rights which must be protected. Truck drivers who abuse drugs must be held accountable for their dangerous behaviors. Trucking companies, too, must be held accountable for putting drivers on the road in dangerous conditions. The experienced truck accident attorneys at the Dolman Law Group protect injury victims’ legal rights. For decades, south Florida injury victims have trusted the Dolman Law Group to both secure fair legal compensation and hold negligent parties responsible for any dangerous conduct.

An Ongoing Public Safety Hazard

The problem of substance abuse among truck drivers is not a new one. Back in 1990, the National Transportation Safety Board released a study which found that one in three truckers killed in highway accidents had recently used drugs or alcohol. At the time, the New York Times reported that random drug screening of truck drivers was highly controversial, and many opponents were vigorously fighting to stop federal regulations which would require it. Today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires random drug testing of commercial truck drivers. Drug testing is also required:

  • Before employment
  • After certain serious accidents
  • When there is reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired
  • Upon returning to duty after a failed drug test, or refusal to take a drug test
  • As part of the follow-up process of returning to duty after a failed or refused drug test. 

Why Truck Driving is Such a Stressful Occupation

Truck driving is both stressful and inherently dangerous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 25% of all workplace fatalities in America in 2015 occurred in the trucking industry. There are many factors which work together to make the profession so dangerous. Long hours, low pay and tough working conditions have caused turnover among truck drivers to remain near one hundred percent. This means that truck drivers on the roadway are rarely experienced, which, in turn, increases the risk of having an accident.

Another safety hazard is truck drivers’ pay structure. Because truck drivers are often paid by the mile, not by the hour, they are forced to choose between productivity and safety. Cargo, too, can pose a danger to truck drivers. Flammable cargo or hazardous material carries obvious risks to truck drivers and others on the road. But cargo can also affect the physics of momentum in other ways. Liquid cargo, for example, can create a “sloshing” effect which propels the truck forward – even from a complete stop. Trailers which are not properly secured can sway across lanes and cause the truck driver to lose control of the load.

The Regulation That Will Not Change

For more than thirty years, federal regulations have set minimum liability insurance coverage for commercial trucks at $750,000. This figure has not changed since 1983. It has not even been adjusted for inflation. Fair Warning estimates that that same amount of coverage, adjusted for inflation, would equate to $2.2 million in 2017. But the minimum continues to defy inflation - let alone the exponential costs of American health care.

Oddly, even the trucking industry seems to recognize that $750,000 is not a sufficient amount of coverage to pay for the severe injuries caused by trucks and big rigs. Fair Warning reports that the Trucking Alliance encourages its members to maintain “significantly higher” coverage than the federal minimum. (Trucking companies are subject to judgments against them for any legal judgments not covered by liability insurance, but such judgments are very rarely paid.) The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently declined yet another proposal to raise the minimum coverage standard. For now, it would appear that safety has - once again - been sacrificed to the needs of politicians.

Insufficient insurance coverage is a very real and devastating problem for the families who are most harmed by truck accidents. Consider the value ($9.6 million) that the Department of Transportation places on human life when calculating the costs and benefits of safety regulations. $750,000 is a mere fraction of this cost. Yet families who lose a loved one to trucking accidents are bound by the $750,000 minimum policy limits that many trucking companies carry.

The real-life tragedy of Ed Slattery is a stark reminder of the actual costs of truck accidents. Bloomberg reports that, in 2010, Slattery’s wife and two young sons were driving home from a family reunion when they were rear-ended by a big rig. The collision forced their vehicle into another big rig ahead of them. Their Ford Focus burst into flames. Slattery’s wife was killed and his two young sons were flown to trauma centers in critical condition. The younger son suffered a traumatic brain injury. He is confined to a wheelchair and speaks only with difficulty. The actual costs of this accident are astronomical. $750,000 would not cover the boys’ initial hospital stay—let alone their mother’s funeral expenses, their ongoing medical care, and their father’s lost wages for months of round-the-clock treatment. The family’s unimaginable pain and suffering becomes a mathematical afterthought.

Aggressive Pursuit of Your Truck Accident Personal Injury Claim

The Dolman Law Group protects residents and visitors of St. Petersburg to ensure that truck accident victims are fairly compensated for their injuries and losses. Our experienced

Dolman Law Group
1663 1St Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL33712
(727) 222-6922