Friday, March 23, 2018

What Type of Settlement Can I Expect after a Slip and Fall?

Slip and fall accidents can occur almost anywhere – both indoors and outdoors. Slip and fall accidents may be difficult to prove because the owner or operator of the premises must have known of the defective condition beforehand. Moreover, the owner must have had a reasonable amount of time to correct or warn of the condition.

Assuming that you can prove the slip and fall occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover monetary compensation. Some slip and fall cases settle, while others go to trial. The value of a slip and fall settlement depends primarily upon whether or not the property owner is contesting fault (i.e. liability), as well as the nature and extent of the injuries and damages you sustained in the fall.

If you have been injured in a St. Petersburg slip and fall accident, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who can represent you throughout your case. The slip and fall personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review the facts of your accident with you and may be able to represent your interests during settlement negotiations and in court if your case goes to trial.

Common Locations for Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur almost anywhere – both indoors and out. Some of the most common locations for St. Petersburg slip and fall accidents include the following:

  • Sidewalks
  • Staircases
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Parking lots
  • Parking garages

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Some of the most common causes of St. Petersburg slip and fall accidents include the following:

  • Damaged or pothole-filled sidewalks, walkways, or driveways leading into a business
  • Wet floors with unmarked puddles or spills
  • Slippery substances that are not cleaned up in a timely manner
  • Improperly maintained or broken staircases 
  • Broken railings on walkways or staircases
  • Poorly maintained parking lots and parking garages near a business 
  • Debris on sidewalks, walkways, and other heavily trafficked areas

Steps to Take Following a Slip and Fall Accident

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the first step toward recovering monetary  compensation is to report your injuries to the property manager or other supervisor on duty. The property manager will likely have you fill out an incident report. When you fill out this report, it is important to detail exactly how the fall occurred and to be as complete as possible about the injuries and damages you sustained.

After filling out an incident report, the next step in the process is to file a claim – usually with the property owner’s insurance company. Unlike automobile accident cases, Florida slip and fall accident cases may have several potential defendants, including individuals, corporations, or governmental entities, such as cities, counties, or local governments. It is important to note that when these potential defendants are part of a slip and fall accident claim, different statutory time periods and notice deadlines may apply. An experienced St. Petersburg slip and fall accident lawyer will be aware of these special deadlines and can ensure that they are met in a timely manner.

Once the claim has been filed, the insurance company will most likely make a determination about whether to admit or deny liability for the accident. If the insurance company admits liability, they may also make an initial settlement offer on your case. These initial offers are usually very low and are much less than what your case is actually worth. A St. Petersburg slip and fall accident lawyer can examine the facts and circumstances of your case and help you determine its settlement value.

Factors to Consider when Evaluating St. Petersburg Slip and Fall Accident Cases

The amount of an injured accident victim’s monetary recovery depends largely upon the amount of insurance coverage available. The amount of available coverage depends upon the insurance limits for any and all available insurance policies at stake – usually those of the property owner. If the at-fault party’s insurance policy is insufficient to cover the accident victim’s medical bills and damages, then the accident victim’s own insurance policy may come into play via an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. Factors that insurance adjusters use when determining the settlement value of a slip and fall accident case include:

Liability contests – specifically, whether the defect on the premises was discoverable upon reasonable inspection; whether the property owner or manager had ample time to correct the defect; whether the accident victim did anything to cause or contribute to the slip and fall accident (such as wearing shoes with worn soles); and whether or not the accident victim could have done something to prevent the slip and fall accident.

The extent of the accident victim’s personal injuries and damages – where the more serious the accident victim’s injuries and damages, the more valuable the case, in the insurance company’s mind. Common injuries sustained in St. Petersburg slip and fall accidents include twisted feet and ankles, fractures and broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), neck and back injuries, and knee injuries, including patella fractures.

The accident victim’s need for future medical care or follow-up medical procedures – where a health care provider must recommend future medical care or procedures, and the injured accident victim must not delay in obtaining the treatment or procedure.

The presence of Medicare liens or other health insurance liens – where a private health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid is entitled to a lien or set off against a portion of the accident victim’s recovery obtained via settlement, arbitration award, or jury verdict.

Call a St. Petersburg Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Legal Consultation and Case Evaluation

Slip and fall accidents can result in serious injuries, costly medical bills, and other damages. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group have considerable experience working with insurance companies and adjusters and know the games that insurance companies play when settling and litigating cases. Our lawyers can work hard to maximize the settlement value of your case and help you to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg slip and fall accident lawyer, please call us or contact us online today.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Were You in a Crash Without a Seat Belt?

Fastening a seat belt is one of the simplest actions that a motor vehicle driver or passenger can take to lessen the likelihood of sustaining injuries in a car or truck accident. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015, seat belts saved approximately 13,941 lives. Likewise, more than 90% of drivers and passengers fasten their seatbelts as soon as they step into a motor vehicle. However, approximately 27.5 million people nationwide still do not buckle up when they get in a car.

If you sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may still be eligible to recover monetary compensation even if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may try and allege that your failure to wear a seat belt contributed to your injuries. The insurance company may, therefore, try and limit your compensation – or even deny you compensation altogether.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash, it is important that you have experienced legal representation on your side. The St. Petersburg, Florida car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review your case with you and may be able to respond to insurance company disputes and help you maximize the settlement or verdict value of your claim.

How Seat Belts Prevent Injuries

There is no disputing that wearing a seat belt while driving or riding in a motor vehicle helps to prevent serious injuries and death in the event of an accident. This is because a seat belt helps to keep a person’s head, neck, and back stationary. In some car accident cases, motor vehicle drivers and their passengers sustain concussions or other serious head injuries when their heads strike the steering wheel or headrest at the point of impact. Motor vehicle occupants can also sustain soft tissue injuries when their necks, backs, and shoulders move forward or backward at the point of impact, resulting in whiplash-type injuries. seat belts help to reduce or eliminate the chances of sustaining these types of injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Case

In order to prove negligence in a car accident case, you must be able to show that another driver (or your driver, if you were a passenger in the vehicle) behaved in careless or reckless manner – and that the driver’s action or inaction caused the accident and your injuries. You must also be able to show that all of the injuries and damages you claim actually resulted from the accident, as opposed to some other source.

When a motor vehicle crash occurs in Florida, an injured accident victim must first turn to his or her own insurance company to pay the costs of medical care and lost wages. However, in cases of permanent injuries – or where the accident victim’s total medical bills or lost wages exceed $10,000 – the injured accident victim may be able to bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer to recover those damages.

Pure Comparative Fault Law in Florida

If you were involved in a motor vehicle crash and you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company may allege that you caused or contributed to your injuries. In some jurisdictions outside of Florida, an injured accident victim can be completely barred from monetary recovery if a jury finds that the plaintiff caused or contributed to the subject accident or injuries in any way, whatsoever.

Fortunately, in the State of Florida, the law provides for a pure comparative fault standard. Under this standard, if an injured accident victim is partly to blame for the subject accident and injuries, the accident victim’s recovery is reduced by an amount that is equal to his or her percentage of fault for the accident.

For example, if a jury finds that the injured accident victim contributed to his or her injuries by 10% for not wearing a seatbelt, and the defendant motor vehicle driver is deemed to be 90% at fault for the accident, then the accident victim’s available damages will be reduced by 10%. Therefore, even if the accident victim may have contributed to his or her injuries by not wearing a seatbelt, the accident victim may still be able to obtain monetary compensation from the case.

Motor vehicle crashes can result in serious injuries and damages, including fractures and broken bones, concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and death, in the worst cases. In the event of a fatal collision, the accident victim’s surviving family members may be able to open an estate. The personal representative of the estate can then file a claim on behalf of the estate for wrongful death damages.

In non-fatal cases, the car accident victim may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for medical bills and expenses, physical therapy costs, lost wages for time missed from work, pain and suffering, causally related mental anguish and emotional distress, loss of earning capacity, and loss of consortium or spousal support. Of course, these damages can be offset to the extent the accident victim contributed to his or her injuries by failing to wear a seatbelt.

Call a St. Petersburg, Florida Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation

Personal injuries sustained in a car crash that resulted from someone else’s negligence can be severe and may have lifelong impacts. Even if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of your accident, you may still be eligible to recover monetary compensation in your case and obtain damages.

The St. Petersburg, Florida car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review your case with you and may be able to take the necessary legal action to maximize the value of your personal injury claim. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer, please call us or contact us online today. 

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

Monday, March 12, 2018

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists for Spring

During the Springtime, many motorcyclists across Florida head to the roads to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful weather. Florida motorcyclists are responsible for following the same rules of the road as their fellow car and truck drivers. Therefore, it is important for motorcyclists to keep basic safety guidelines in mind when operating their vehicles on Florida roadways, in order to prevent accidents. These regulations include obeying signs and traffic control devices, lane markings, and other signals.

Sometimes, however, no matter how carefully a motorcyclist operates his or her vehicle, an accident will still occur. These accidents can happen anywhere, and the results are oftentimes severe and catastrophic. The many busy multi-lane highways and roadways in and around St. Petersburg, Florida are prime territory for motorcycle accidents.

When motorcycle accidents occur, the injuries to operators and their passengers can be very serious. This is because the motorcycle occupants do not have the body of a car surrounding them when the accident occurs. Therefore, they are more likely to strike another vehicle or the ground, injuring themselves. Even motorcycle helmets are not accident-proof and cannot protect motorcyclists from injuring other parts of their body in an accident.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence (either the motorcycle operator or another driver), the knowledgeable St. Petersburg, Florida motorcycle accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group are here to help. Our skilled team of attorneys can review the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and may be able to pursue monetary compensation through a personal injury settlement or litigation proceeding.

Tip #1 – Always Wear a Helmet

Motorcycle helmets save lives. Period. Statistically, according to both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of death by 37% in motorcycle crashes and reduce the risk of head injuries by 69%. Motorcycle helmets can prevent or significantly lessen injuries by acting as a buffer between the accident victim’s head and the ground (or another vehicle).

Motorcycle helmets also provide eye protection to motorcycle operators and passengers and eliminate wind noise, allowing the motorcycle operator to see and hear the road better. Finally, motorcycle helmets and other protective gear put motorcycle operators in the proper mindset, subconsciously encouraging them to operate their vehicles safely and to take extra precautions.

It is important to understand, however, that motorcycle helmets are not foolproof. Motorcycle operators and their passengers can still sustain serious injuries in an accident. Even well-constructed motorcycle helmets can crack and they always keep the wearer’s face either fully or partially exposed. Obviously, helmets only protect the head and offer little, if any, protection to other body parts in the event of a serious crash. Motorcyclists can still sustain serious and potentially catastrophic injuries to other body parts in a motorcycle accident, including injuries to the hands, limbs, feet, and hips.

Tip #2 – Obey the Rules of the Road

Motorcycle operators are responsible for following the same rules of the road as are the operators of cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles. Thus, motorcycle operators should take care to follow traffic signs (including stop and yield signs), traffic control devices (e.g., traffic lights and railroad crossing signals), as well as lane markings. Since motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles, they can maneuver themselves in and out of traffic very easily – especially on Florida highways. Motorcycle operators, therefore, should take care to use turn signals regularly and make sure that they are functioning properly at all times.

Tip #3 – Do Not Drink and Drive

Florida DUI laws apply to motorcycle operators just as they do car and truck drivers. Under Florida law, a person may not operate a motor vehicle on a Florida highway or roadway with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Minors and commercial drivers who hold a CDL license are held to much more stringent standards.

Drunk driving alters a motorcycle operator’s depth perception, causes blurry vision, and delays reaction time. When those problems are combined with already heavy traffic conditions and other fast moving vehicles on the roadway, they create the potential for disaster.

Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Case

Sometimes, no matter how carefully a motorcycle operator drives his or her motorcycle, accidents will still occur. In order to show that another driver caused the accident, the injured motorcycle operator or passenger will need to show that the other driver failed to drive in a reasonably prudent and careful manner under the circumstances. The accident victim must also be able to show that his or her injuries and damages were a direct result of the accident. These injuries can include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), fractures, broken bones, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, cuts, abrasions, and soft tissue injuries. If the accident victim was killed in the accident, his or her estate may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver.

Upon successfully proving damages, the accident victim may be able to recover monetary compensation for all medical and physical therapy bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of use, and loss of enjoyment of life. Call a St. Petersburg, Florida Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Legal Consultation and Case Evaluation When motorcycle operators follow the Florida Rules of the Road, they are taking a major step in preventing serious accidents. However, when an accident occurs as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you sustain injuries, you need experienced legal representation on your side every step of the way. The St. Petersburg motorcycle accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group are skilled negotiators and have the necessary legal knowledge and expertise to help you to obtain a fair value for your case. If the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to settle your case favorably, our lawyers welcome the opportunity to litigate your case through the Florida court system.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg motorcycle accident lawyer, please call us or contact us online today.

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

Thursday, February 22, 2018

PIP Insurance Limits and Your Rights to Seek Additional Compensation

Automobile accidents can cause devastating injuries that require extensive medical treatment and extended bed rest in order to make a full recovery. Accident victims often miss work and fear that they won’t be able to support their families anymore. Florida’s no-fault insurance scheme was designed to help accident victims receive compensation quickly for their injuries, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. However, the low policy limits also mean that many people need additional compensation to pay their bills.

PIP Insurance Limits

Florida law requires that all drivers have personal injury protection (PIP) benefits as part of their automobile insurance. Although you can choose your amount of coverage, many people automatically choose the minimum that the law requires--$10,000. This amount of money can certainly cover medical expenses in a minor car accident, but many accident victims will need much more. And given how inflated medical care has become, even a minor accident can quickly eat up all of your benefits.

Furthermore, your PIP benefits won’t cover your entire loss. Instead, you’ll be reimbursed for only 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages up to your maximum policy limit. If you have $4,000 in medical expenses and $2,000 in lost wages, you’ll only receive $3,200 and $1,200, respectively. Losing out on 20% of your medical expenses and 40% of your lost wages is a bitter pill for many people to swallow—especially when you weren’t to blame for the accident.

Maxing Out Your Policy Benefits

What happens if you need more compensation even after maxing out your PIP benefits? As noted previously, many times the PIP benefits will not fully cover the expenses incurred for pricey medical treatments. Taking time off work, lost wages, and missed future earnings can add to the stress of recovering after an accident. The good news is that you can bring a lawsuit against the other driver—but only if you weren’t to blame for the accident. You’ll need to prove that the other driver was negligent in some way and that their negligence caused your injuries.

Your injury must also have been serious enough to warrant a lawsuit. According to law, the following injuries will qualify:

  • Death
  • Significant and permanent disfigurement
  • Significant and permanent scarring
  • Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
  • Serious permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement

If you’ve suffered any of these injuries, or if a loved one has died, then you might be able to bring a lawsuit. If successful, you’ll be able to receive compensation to cover your full medical bills and lost wages. Only a qualified attorney can analyze your medical records and see if you qualify, so contact a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney today.

Receiving Compensation for Pain and Suffering

Florida’s no-fault insurance scheme was adopted, in part, to keep people for suing for pain and suffering damages when they suffer only whiplash or another minor injury. The legislature didn’t want people suing for hundreds of thousands of dollars when it was obvious that they would recover quickly from their injuries. However, the legislature wasn’t entirely unreasonable but instead recognized that some people suffer permanent injuries, and these should be compensated. Accordingly, you can tack on pain and suffering damages to your lawsuit if you suffer from a serious injury as defined above. You can also sue for other non-economic damages such as inconvenience and mental anguish caused by the accident. Although each situation is different, these non-economic damages can run to tens of thousands of dollars—if not more—and can fully compensate you for your loss.

What You Need to Prove in order to Sue

You can’t bring a lawsuit if you were to blame for the accident. Instead, at-fault drivers will have to make due with their PIP benefits. However, if you can show that the other driver was negligent, then you might win your lawsuit. Negligence is simply the legal term for carelessness, and negligence can take many forms:

  • Speeding
  • Swerving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Running a red light
  • Driving while distracted (talking on the phone, texting, or talking to someone in the back seat)
  • Not maintaining your car properly so that it is dangerous to operate

Soon after the accident, you should document what happened as thoroughly as possible. Write down your memories of what happened—what did you do? What did the other car do? If passengers were riding in the car with you, ask them to write down their memories while they are fresh. Your personal injury lawyer will use this information to help reconstruct what actions the other driver took and whether they were negligent.

You should also return to the scene of the accident as soon as you feel ready—or send a family member out. Take photographs of the scene, including any obstructions. If possible, someone should take pictures soon after the accident, while the cars are still on the road. An accident reconstructionist can use this information to determine who was to blame for the accident.

If you are suing for pain and suffering, then you must convince a skeptical jury that you are truly in a lot of physical or emotional pain. To help your case, you can have family members testify as to changes in your mood and routine, such as an inability to pursue your favorite hobbies or be intimate with your spouse. You can also introduce evidence of your prescription drugs for pain relief, as well as a pain journal in which you carefully document how much pain you feel each day.

Call a St. Petersburg, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Accident victims need financial compensation to get back on their feet and provide for their families. Unfortunately, Florida’s PIP laws are needlessly complex and hard for most people to navigate. At Dolman Law Group, our personal injury lawyers have decades of experience with Florida’s PIP laws and can help our clients get the compensation they deserve. Call us today at 727-222-6922 or fill out our online contact form.

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

FAQs about Florida Personal Injury Litigation

The civil law system exists to help people recover from injuries caused by someone else. At Dolman Law Group, we field questions every day from people who have been injured but need more information to decide whether they can sue. Read on for answers to some of the more common questions about Florida personal injury litigation.

What is a “personal injury”?

A personal injury is a kind of injury to your body or mind that you can receive financial compensation for. Of course, people can suffer all kinds of injuries that aren’t personal. For example, someone might steal from you, in which case you have lost property.

You can suffer a personal injury in several ways:

  • Someone or something intentional strikes you, e.g., you get in a bar fight or a dog bites you
  • Someone accidentally hurts you because they were careless, e.g., someone negligently hits you with their car while pulling out of their driveway
  • A dangerous product doesn’t operate the way you would normally expect it to, and it injures you, e.g., a kitchen blender explodes and hurts you

Doesn’t the Prosecutor Deal with Crimes?

Yes. If someone intentionally punches you, they have probably committed a crime. However, they have also committed a civil wrong, called a “tort.” A defendant’s act can be both a crime and a tort, but the criminal and civil courts are separate.

The purpose of the criminal justice system is to punish someone and possibly remove them from society or rehabilitate them. As the victim, you can report the crime to the police and possibly testify at trial, but you don’t decide whether to prosecute the offender or whether they should spend time in jail.

The civil system is different. It exists to compensate victims for the injuries they have suffered, and the victim must decide to file a lawsuit in court. The civil courts cannot put the defendant in prison, but they can order the defendant to pay you money to help you recover from the injuries they caused.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

States don’t give victims forever to bring lawsuits, and each state has a statute that tells you the maximum amount of time you have. This statute is called a “statute of limitations.” In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is four years after the accident.

However, an exception exists if you didn’t discover your injury until after the statue of limitations period had ended. In this situation, the window of time might be extended because of something called the “discovery rule.” In any event, it’s in your best interest to contact a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident in order to protect your rights.

Can I Sue Even if I Am Partially at Fault for My Injuries?

Yes. Florida has a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means you can receive compensation even if your own carelessness contributed to an injury. As an example: you might have been struck by car in a parking lot by a driver who was distracted. However, you weren’t looking where you were going because you were texting as you walked. In this situation, you might be 50% responsible for your injuries, but you can still sue. If you win your lawsuit, the amount you receive will be reduced by your amount of responsibility. For example, if you win $20,000 but are 50% responsible, you will only get $10,000.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Receive?

If the court finds the defendant responsible for your injuries, they can award you a sum of money called “damages.” Personal injury victims can often recover damages for several types of injuries, such as the following:

Your medical bills. This includes doctor’s bills, rehabilitation and therapy costs, and money spent for prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Lost wages. If you missed work to recover, you might receive the amount you would have made had you not been injured.

Lost future wages. Some injuries will prevent you from returning to your old job, so you might be able to receive an amount of money to compensate you.

Pain and suffering.
Money is probably a poor substitute for feeling pain-free, but it’s the best the legal system can do to compensate you.

Loss of consortium. This term refers to changes in your personal relationships, such as with your spouse or children. In some situations, they can be compensated for the loss of intimacy, love, instruction, and care.

Not every victim will qualify for every type of damages. For example, the law limits your ability to sue for pain and suffering damages if you were injured in a car accident. In that situation, you’ll only be able to sue if your injury is sufficiently serious (e.g., being permanently disfigured or permanently losing an important bodily function). Only an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer can assess your situation and estimate the amount of compensation you can receive.

What Are Punitive Damages?

Most damages you receive will be compensatory in nature. They are meant to put you back in the position you would have been in had you not been injured. However, Florida also allows punitive damages in some situations, such as where the defendant’s conduct was particularly dangerous. Generally, you can only receive up to three times your compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

What Are Contingency Fees?

Lawsuits are expensive. It can take hundreds of hours just to thoroughly investigate a case to pinpoint the precise person or business to sue. Filing motions in court and preparing for trial also take a lot of time. Most people don’t have the money to pay a lawyer for all of this work—and on top of everything else, they might no longer be able to work because of their injury!

The law recognizes that people still need skilled legal representation to protect their rights, so Dolman Law Group can offer contingency fee agreements to our clients. Under this arrangement, we will forgo our fee and instead take a percentage of any jury verdict or settlement if we win the case. If we don’t win, then we won’t collect any fee. Contingency fee agreements encourage your lawyer to work hard for you; otherwise, they won’t be compensated for their time.

Speak to a St. Petersburg, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve suffered a personal injury, you are probably in a lot of pain and confused about what to do next. At Dolman Law Group, our attorneys help accident victims receive a just settlement to help them get back on their feet. Contact us for a free consultation at 727-222-6922.

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Personal Injuries Can Happen Right in Your House

Your home is where you retreat for comfort and safety after a stressful day at work, but your home also contains many hidden hazards. In particular, many people are injured by products in their home that don’t work as they expected, causing serious injuries which might force them to miss work and cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. If you’ve been injured by a product in your home, you should reach out to a St. Petersburg products liability attorney today.

Dangerous Products

Almost any product can be dangerous depending on how it was manufactured or designed—appliances, medicines, food, furniture all have potentially dangerous design flaws. Some products are dangerous no matter what, so the manufacturer will need to warn you of the dangers or tell you how to use the product to minimize the risk. It’s impossible to identify by sight what products are dangerous. However, over the past few years, there have been some famous defective products:

  • In the early 1980s, Tylenol recalled over 31 million bottles of Tylenol because of cyanide poisoning.
  • In 2006, Dell recalled over 4 million laptops over concerns that batteries would overheat and catch fire.
  • Over 9 million toys were recalled by Mattel because of lead poisoning.
  • More than 400,000 cribs were recalled in 2009 after a child suffocated because of a defect.
  • Following the death of three infants, 1 million baby slings were recalled in 2010 over concerns involving suffocation.
  • Over half a million two-wheeled self-balancing scooters—called hoverboards—were recalled because of reports that they caught on fire.

Each year, manufacturers recall products, but many consumers never hear about the recall or the recall comes too late. If the product injures a consumer because it is unreasonably dangerous, then the manufacturer will be strictly liable for any injuries. This means you don’t have to show the manufacturer was careless; instead, it’s enough that they sold an unreasonably dangerous product that injured you.

Three Bases for a Products Liability Claim

You can’t necessarily sue a manufacturer simply because you were injured by a product. For example, if you are clumsy and you cut yourself with a knife, you probably can’t sue the knife manufacturer, who didn’t do anything wrong. Instead, the product must be “unreasonably dangerous,” which means it failed to perform safely as an ordinary consumer would expect it to when used in the intended manner. Basically, you can bring a products liability lawsuit in the following three situations:

The product was manufactured in a defective manner. Imagine you bought an electric mixer and plug it in, expecting it to work as most mixers work. Instead, the thing explodes, and you end up getting cut by glass and metal. This mixer might have been manufactured in a flawed manner—maybe it was put together wrong, or defective materials were used that broke down under stress. If you compared the product to the blueprints used by the manufacturer, you will be able to find a mistake.

The design was defective. Some products are put together exactly as specified in blueprints using quality materials. However, the product was designed poorly, which has caused the product not to operate as expected. Often, when there is a design defect, many people across the nation will be injured.

You weren’t provided adequate instructions or warnings. Some products are simple to use. For example, you should know how to use a can opener. But more complicated products should have detailed instructions, and dangerous products should have appropriate warnings. If instructions or warnings are insufficient—or missing altogether—then you might be able to hold the manufacturer legally responsible for the injuries.

Who Can I Sue?

Often, you sue the manufacturer that designed or created the dangerous product. Some products are made from many different parts, and a separate manufacturer will supply the part. In that situation, you can often sue both manufacturers—the company responsible for the defective part and the manufacturer that assembled the entire product. Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to sue others in the distribution chain, including:

  • Wholesalers
  • Suppliers
  • Distributors
  • Retailers

An experienced products liability attorney can identify who in the distribution chain you can hold legally responsible for selling an unreasonably dangerous product. Identifying the right parties can help maximize the amount of financial compensation you receive and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

What Kinds of Compensation Can I Receive?

Defective products can cause a range of injuries, from mild to catastrophic. You might suffer burns, disfigurement, and broken bones, or you could be rendered temporarily or permanently disabled. To compensate you, the courts allow you to bring a products liability suit against the party responsible for for the defective product. Consequently, you can receive compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills, including the costs of therapy and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages while you recover, including expected wages if your injuries prevent you from returning to work in the future.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Mental anguish.
  • Inconvenience.
  • Changes to your relationship with your spouse and children, which is called “loss of consortium.” 

Your ability to receive money will depend on the quality of your evidence. For example, pain and suffering is difficult to prove to skeptical juries. However, the lawyers at Dolman Law Group are skilled at putting together a compelling case consisting of testimony from friends and family that your lifestyle and mood have changed because of the accident. You can also testify on your own behalf.

Call a St. Petersburg, Florida Products Liability Attorney

Defective products can cause devastating injuries, and victims need financial compensation to help them begin to put their lives back together. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous product at home, you should contact a skilled St. Petersburg products liability attorney now. At Dolman Law Group, our attorneys have helped many victims in the St. Petersburg area obtain a fair settlement for their injuries. Call us today at 727-222-6922 or fill out our online contact form. Consultations are free.

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pedestrians Can Be Hit in Parking Lots

When you think of automobile accidents, you probably think of two cars smashing into each other at an intersection or on the highway. However, automobile accidents can also occur when a car slams into a pedestrian—even in parking lots. In fact, about 20% of car accidents occur in parking lots. And these accidents seem to be on an upswing in many parts of the country, especially during busy shopping periods. If you’ve been struck by a car in a parking lot, you might be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, so it is critical that you contact a St. Petersburg, Florida personal injury attorney right away.

Does Car Insurance Apply?

In Florida, all drivers must carry no-fault, personal injury protection coverage called PIP, which covers accidents where a driver strikes a pedestrian. This insurance will provide a modest amount of compensation to cover your injuries. As of 2018, the minimum amount of PIP coverage you must get is $10,000, which is about the maximum that most drivers purchase. Although this isn’t a lot of money, it might be enough to cover your medical bills and even a portion of any lost wages. What’s great about PIP is that you don’t need to prove the driver is legally “at fault” for hitting you.

Your own PIP policy should also apply, even if you were struck as a pedestrian, which means you don’t have to worry about whether or not the driver was insured. Before you can get PIP benefits, however, you must visit the doctor within 14 days of the accident. This is a critical deadline, and if you miss it then you probably won’t be entitled to any benefits.

What Should I Do After the Accident?

In addition to receiving immediate medical attention, you should begin collecting evidence so that you can figure out what actually happened. Your health should always be your first priority, but if you were walking with a friend or family member, you can ask them to do the following soon after the accident:

  • Get the driver’s insurance information. Although you’ll make a claim with your PIP insurance provider, in some situations you might need to work with the driver’s insurer.
  • Identify witnesses. Witnesses are helpful because they can explain if the driver wasn’t paying attention. For example, the driver might have been talking on her phone when she backed into you.
  • Take pictures. Have a friend or passerby use their smart phone to photograph the car and the point of impact. You don’t have to have a picture taken of you lying on the ground waiting for an ambulance, but you want some sense of what the scene looks like.
  • Check for surveillance footage. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run, then surveillance footage is helpful. You can use it to identify the driver of the car.

This is a lot to remember, especially if you’re in a lot of pain. If needed, you or a friend can return to the scene of the accident later to try and get some of this information.

Common Injuries to Pedestrians

Most accidents in parking lots are probably at a low speed. Nevertheless, it’s possible to suffer serious injuries as a pedestrian even when a vehicle is not going fast. Remember, it isn’t only the car strike the causes injuries but how (and where) you fall. For example, you might suffer the following:

  • Concussion. This occurs when you strike your head, for example by falling to the ground. A concussion is an internal brain injury which can cause you to black out. You might also have difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly for days afterwards.
  • Other traumatic brain injuries. More serious brain injuries might occur if you are thrown and strike your head against a concrete barrier, light pole, or other hard object. TBIs can result in difficulty speaking, walking, and taking care of yourself.
  • Broken bones. Either the strike itself or your fall can cause broken bones in your legs, arms, hips, or face.
  • Back injuries. The human back is very complicated and is made up of muscle, bones, tissue, and tendons. A lot can go wrong with your back, which can render you immobile and in a lot of pain.
  • Cuts and abrasions. After being struck, you might slide away from the car. This can cause all kinds of nicks, cuts, and abrasions which carry a risk of infection.

Even if you feel “okay” after being struck in a parking lot, you should still go to a doctor to be checked out. Some problems, such as back injuries, are slow to develop or hard to spot. Early detection is critical so that you can begin an appropriate course of treatment.

When Can I Sue?

Florida’s no-fault scheme prevents most people from suing the driver for their personal injuries. In particular, you can’t sue to receive compensation for pain and suffering unless you have suffered a serious injury. According to the state’s statute, the following situations apply:

  • You suffer a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function. For example, you can no longer walk.
  • You suffer a permanent injury.
  • You suffer significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
  • Your loved one died because of the accident.

In the above situations, you can step outside the PIP system and receive additional compensation for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and other injuries. Because every situation is different, you should meet with a car accident attorney to review your medical records and prognosis.

Contact a St. Petersburg, Florida Automobile Accident Lawyer

Florida’s insurance laws are confusing, and you might not know whether you have a legal case that is worth pursuing through the courts. At Dolman Law Group, our attorneys are well-versed in Florida automobile accident law and can identify how much compensation you are likely to receive. Don’t assume your injuries are too minor to warrant compensation. Instead, call us today at 727-222-6922 or fill out our online contact form. Initial consultation and case evaluation are free.

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