Friday, May 18, 2018

How Personal Injury Settlement Negotiations Work

The personal injury claims process can easily become overwhelming to an injury victim who has not had to go through the process before. Filing a claim with another person’s insurance company, proving fault, establishing the amount of your pain and suffering, and other tasks can be daunting for anyone. All of these steps often must occur before a lawsuit is even filed. The experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys the Dolman Law Group know how to navigate a successful personal injury settlement from the start.

Step One: Identifying the Correct Defendant(s)

The first step in any personal injury claim is to identify the person, persons, companies, or other legal entities at fault for causing an accident. In the case of an auto accident, this is often another driver. Multiple drivers may also be at fault. In this case, the respective insurance companies involved will apportion fault based upon each driver’s actions.

When personal injuries are caused by a defective product, the injury victim must identify which companies were responsible for placing the product in the marketplace for consumer use. Most often the claim is filed with the company that manufactured the product. But importers, distributors, retailers, and other companies can also be held responsible for placing the defective product in the stream of commerce. This is known as products liability.

Products liability may also be an issue in other types of accidents. If, for example, a car accident was caused by a vehicle with defective brakes, the brake manufacturer could be held liable for the accident. Or a workplace injury might have been caused by heavy machinery with improper safety warnings. This, too, could lead the equipment manufacturer to be held liable for compensating the workplace injury.

The person or company who is responsible for causing an accident will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of an accident. This is why it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney review your case, to ensure that the correct defendant has been identified, and that no defendants are escaping liability for negligence.

Step Two: Establishing Liability

In order to recover compensation from a defendant, an injury victim must prove that the defendant was legally responsible (or “at fault”) for causing the accident. This is called liability. In order to prove liability, the injury victim must establish that the defendant violated his or her duty of care, and was therefore negligent. The duty of care required depends upon the type of injury that occurred:

In the case of an auto accident, every driver has a duty to drive with due care. Due care is what a reasonably prudent driver would exercise. Violations of traffic laws (such as speed restrictions, left-turn statutes, or failure to yield the right of way) can be used as evidence that a driver failed to meet this duty of care.

In the case of medical malpractice, a physician’s duty of care is defined by the Florida Statutes. Section 766.102(1) of the Florida Statutes defines the prevailing professional standard of care for a health care provider is the level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers. Essentially, this means that doctors must act as a reasonably prudent doctor would in similar circumstances.

In the case of products liability, manufacturers of consumer goods have a duty to sell only those goods that are safe for ordinary uses by the consumer. Defects in design or in manufacturing can be used as evidence that the product was unsafe. However, a consumer who misuses a product (for example, using a curling iron on parts of the body other than hair) may be unable to prove products liability. Products liability extends to all consumer goods. This includes: automobiles, boats, heavy machinery, food, toys, electronics, furniture, clothing, pet products, household cleansers, medications, and any other product sold to the public.

Premises liability refers to a property owner’s duty to maintain his or her land in a safe condition. The duty of care depends on the landowner’s status. Business owners and retail stores, for example, have a higher duty of care, because they invite the public onto their property for the purpose of conducting business. These businesses generally must inspect and make their premises safe for patrons. Private homeowners have less responsibility to their guests, but still have a duty to warn guests of hidden dangers (such as an uneven step).

Liability can be simple or very difficult to establish, depending on the circumstances of an accident. For example, rear end auto accidents almost always result in liability for the rear driver. These accidents are almost always the result of a breach of that driver’s duty to control his or her speed in order to avoid a collision. Similarly, a vehicle that spontaneously brakes as a result of a faulty braking system will almost certainly result in liability for the auto manufacturer, which violated its duty of care to sell consumer goods safe for ordinary use. In some cases, an attorney must fight hard to use statutes and case law in order to prove that the defendant was, in fact, negligent.

Step Three: Negotiating Legal Damages

Legal damages are the losses that an injury victim incurs as the result of an accident. This can include lost wages, medical bills, and property damage. However, the largest component of a victim’s legal damages is often the pain and suffering endured as a result of the defendant’s negligence. This can be difficult to prove. Pain is subjective, and so is the suffering one endures as a result of its limiting effect on family interactions, work, and favorite pastimes. This, too, is an area where an experienced attorney must present effective legal arguments in order to support a victim’s claim for pain and suffering damages.

The Right Attorneys for Your Personal Injury Claim

There are many ways to settle a personal injury claim. The aggressive personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help you select the best method of resolving your claim. Call 727-222-6922 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney. We will examine the specific facts of your unique case in order to recommend the fastest, most cost-effective method of achieving the best possible resolution of your personal injury claim.

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

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

Many victims of car accidents, slip and fall accidents, or workplace accidents find that an injury aggravates a pre-existing medical condition. When this happens, many insurance companies attempt to reduce the victim’s personal injury settlement, claiming that the defendant is not responsible for the underlying condition. This is not the case. Defendants are legally obligated to compensate all financial losses caused by their negligence. The experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group know the best ways to protect your claim from being reduced unfairly because of a pre-existing medical condition.

The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule

A familiar saying in personal injury law is that defendants must take plaintiffs “as they find them.” This means that, even if another plaintiff would not have suffered such serious injuries in the same accident, the defendant is still obligated to compensate all of this plaintiff’s injuries. This rule is informally referred to as the “Eggshell Plaintiff Rule.” Even a plaintiff who is fragile (like an eggshell) is still entitled to compensation for all injuries caused by a defendant’s negligence.

Consider this example: Imagine that an elderly car accident victim suffers from osteoporosis. A negligent driver rear-ends the victim at low speed, and in most instances, the victim’s injuries would have been minor. But this victim suffered many broken bones as a result of osteoporosis. The negligent driver is still obligated to compensate the full value of this victim’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses associated with the broken bones, because those injuries were nonetheless caused by that driver’s negligence.

The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule resulted in one jury awarding a victim nearly double the amount he had initially offered to accept in settlement. The National Law Review reported that the elderly victim was injured in a car accident. He eventually had MRIs performed on his neck and back, which showed degenerative damage to the areas. These conditions would normally be treated by a surgical decompression procedure. The victim, however, was unable to undergo surgery due to a heart condition and diabetic neuropathy. His doctor therefore recommended alternative pain management strategies (such as acupuncture and physical therapy). These alternatives could reduce his pain, but not completely correct the damage caused by the car accident, and the victim was left with lifelong pain and suffering. He initially offered to settle his case for $60,000. The insurance company refused—and the case went to trial, where a jury ultimately awarded the victim over one million dollars.

How Settlement Negotiations Work With a Pre-Existing Condition

Any personal injury claim begins with the victim identifying who was legally responsible (“liable”) for causing the injury. This could be a negligent driver, the manufacturer of a defective product, a retail store that failed to maintain its premises in a safe condition, or an employer who exposed employees to dangerous working conditions. The victim can then make a claim with the defendant’s liability insurance carrier to seek compensation for his or her injuries. When a claim is opened, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation into the accident. This allows the carrier to determine whether its client was, in fact, responsible for the accident. If liability is accepted, the insurance company will determine how much the claim is worth to make a settlement offer.

In assessing the value of a claim, a claims adjuster will review the victim’s medical records and bills, which an injury victim must supply in order to document his or her injuries. If the victim has a pre-existing injury or illness that impacts current injuries, this will be reflected in the medical records. Some unscrupulous claims adjusters will immediately cite such a condition as a reason to devalue a personal injury claim. If so, it is up to the victim (or his or her attorney) to establish that the pre-existing injury should not reduce the value of the present claim.

When an accident worsens an existing injury with affiliated chronic pain, the victim does not suffer new pain and suffering, but only an increase in the amount of pain and suffering experienced. For example, if the vulnerable car accident victim had MRIs performed immediately before and after the accident, which showed a change of exactly ten percent in the degeneration that occurred in his neck and back, then the defendant would be liable for only the ten percent change attributed to the accident. This is because the accident did not trigger new pain and suffering; it only exacerbated an existing condition by ten percent. This is sometimes referred to as the “crumbling plaintiff rule.” It can be difficult for an insurance company to apportion pain and suffering, and prove that only a specific portion of the victim’s pain and suffering was caused by the defendant’s negligence. It is possible, however, and many insurance companies use this rule to mitigate their costs associated with a pre-existing injury.

Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Who Fight for Just Compensation for Your Injuries

All personal injury victims have legal rights under Florida law. They are legally entitled to be compensated for all losses resulting from their injuries, including long-term medical care and rehabilitation; decreased future earning potential; and all other costs attributable to the negligent medical diagnosis or treatment. The right to compensation is not altered by the fact that an injury victim has a pre-existing medical condition. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of personal injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg area. Call 727-222-6922 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney. We can help you protect your personal injury claim against devaluation as a result of a pre-existing condition.

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

Friday, April 27, 2018

Common Traffic Law Violations in St. Petersburg

Car accidents can be the result of many different factors. Often, however, they are the result of another driver’s traffic infraction. A citation or other evidence of a traffic infraction can be used in a civil case as evidence that the driver was negligent. While a citation alone does not automatically prove that a driver was negligent, it is often persuasive evidence which can cause an insurance company to accept liability or convince a jury that the driver was negligent. Learn more about common types of traffic infractions and how an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney can help victims access compensation for injuries they sustain as a result of a violation of Florida traffic law.

Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes is known as the State Uniform Traffic Control. This Chapter provides for the use of photo enforcement cameras, obedience to traffic control devices, high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, duties to yield, no passing zones, following too closely, driving on divided highways, left turns, pedestrians, school buses, speed regulations, reckless and careless driving offenses, impaired driving regulations, and many other important traffic laws. The Chapter also provides regulations for the operation of motorcycles, mopeds, all-terrain vehicles, golf carts, motorized scooters, and swamp buggies on the public roadways of Florida. These laws form the majority of Florida’s traffic offenses. Drivers can also be cited for violations of county regulations, municipal ordinances, and other traffic regulations which are applicable in the jurisdiction where they are driving.

Photo Enforcement

Photo enforcement of traffic laws has become a common - and controversial - practice across the United States. Many different legal challenges have been launched which question the constitutionality of this practice. The Miami Herald reports that the Florida Supreme Court has taken a case which challenges the manner in which the city of Aventura issues traffic citations from photo enforcement devices. Aventura, like many other cities, has contracted with American Traffic Solutions to maintain red light cameras within its jurisdiction. The company then reviews photos and either discards them as invalid (for example, if a camera misfired or a license plate is illegible) or sends them to law enforcement agents for review. A law enforcement agency must then issue citations. This is due to a 2010 state law which allows contractors (such as American Traffic Solutions) to review photo enforcement images but requires citations to be issued directly from a law enforcement entity.

Luis Torres Jiminez received a photo radar citation from the city of Aventura in 2011. It was initially thrown out by a judge but later reinstated on appeal. Now his case has made it to the state’s supreme court, where his attorney argues that the city illegally gave “unfettered discretion” to American Traffic Solutions to review images and print and send citations. The justices seemed skeptical of the argument that the city’s delegation of authority to not issue citations was a violation of the 2010 law. Nonetheless, these and other legal challenges are currently progressing through state courts across the country.

Golf Cart Accidents

Golf carts a popular mode of transportation in sunny Florida, but they too are subject to traffic regulations. The Villages News provides tips for golf cart safety and complying with traffic regulations. First, operators whose driver’s licenses have been canceled, suspended or revoked cannot legally drive a golf cart on public roadways. This is because the Florida statutes define golf carts as motor vehicles. Criminal penalties are provided for the operator of any motor vehicle (including a golf cart) who drives while his or her license is not valid. The statutes also prohibit the operation of a golf cart on a public roadway unless it has been specifically designated for that purpose by the local municipality. Even on designated roadways, a golf cart may not be operated by anyone under the age of fourteen.

Golf cart accidents can cause injuries. Without the safety equipment of a regulated passenger vehicle, these injuries can sometimes be even more severe than those sustained in an auto accident. Negligent golf cart drivers have a legal obligation to compensate victims who are injured as a result of their negligence. This can include passengers, pedestrians, bike riders, and other road users. On a golf course, this may include other golfers, caddies, groundskeepers, and other workers. Golf cart drivers have a legal obligation to drive with due care.

Florida’s Point System

Like many other states, Florida has enacted a system of points by which a driver can face suspension or revocation of driving privileges. The penalties faced depend upon the number of points which are accrued. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles reports on the points assessed for common traffic violations, including leaving the scene of an accident (6 points), unlawful speed resulting in an accident (6 points), reckless driving (4 points), passing a stopped school bus (4 points), having an open container of alcohol (3 points), and a child restraint violation (3 points). According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, accrual of 12 points in a 12 month period results in a 30-day suspension of driving privileges. 18 points in 18 months will result in a three-month suspension, and 24 points within 36 months will result in a one-year suspension of driving privileges. Points are calculated based on the date the ticket was received.

Drivers can avoid accruing points for certain eligible offenses by attending traffic school. This prevents the administrative consequences of accruing points and also prevents an auto insurance carrier from canceling the driver’s policy or increasing the premiums for an existing policy.

The Right Representation for Your Car Accident Injury Claim

Victims who are injured in auto accidents have the legal right to be compensated for their financial losses. For over forty-six years, injury victims in the St. Petersburg area have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect these legal rights. Call (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our skilled personal injury attorneys have the experience necessary to achieve results.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How a Brain Injury Can Affect Your Child’s Future

Brain injuries often result in permanent deficits to a person’s cognitive functioning. This can affect all aspects of daily life: household chores, education, professional life, and interpersonal relationships can all be impacted by the difficulties presented by a brain injury. These challenges can be made even more difficult when the brain injury victim is a child. Young children have brains which are still forming and developing. While this enables some child victims to recover from a brain injury, it leaves others with lifelong cognitive difficulties. Children who are victims of brain injuries often have the right to be compensated for their losses. The experienced brain injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help parents file claims, negotiate settlements, and determine whether to accept a settlement or file a lawsuit. Parents and attorneys can work together as partners to protect a child’s legal rights.

What to Expect After a Child Sustains a Brain Injury

Because children do not yet have the full cognitive capabilities of an adult, the symptoms of a child’s brain injury may not be immediately obvious. Symptoms can also vary greatly depending on the location and severity of the injury. The Brain Injury Association of America reports on common symptoms of brain injuries. Physical impairments may include changes in speech, vision, hearing, balance or motor coordination. The child may also experience headaches and fatigue, or muscle spasms. Severe injuries may result in seizures or paralysis.

There are also many cognitive impairments a child may suffer after a brain injury. Short-term memory, concentration, attention span, perception, communication skills and judgment can all be impaired by a brain injury. Challenges to these skills can make it more difficult for a child to plan, read and write. A brain injury can also cause a child to think more slowly. All of these deficits make school work difficult for many child brain injury victims.

Brain injuries can also result in different emotional impairments. Victims may find themselves suffering from mood swings, self-centeredness, anxiety or depression. They may be in denial about the extent of their injuries or the impact the injuries have on their daily life. All of this can result in lowered self-esteem. Restlessness, a lack of motivation, and difficulty controlling emotions can also be symptoms of the depression and anxiety caused by a brain injury. As adults, some brain injury victims also experience interruptions in the sexual functioning as a result of a brain injury.

Brain Injuries Can Affect a Child’s Mental Health

The emotional symptoms of a brain injury are not always a short-term condition. Reuters reports that researchers have found psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, and phobias to be present in adults more than a decade after sustaining a childhood brain injury. Scientists had previously believed that brain injuries only caused short-term emotional effects. The new study suggests that a brain injury can result in long-term conditions which must be identified and addressed throughout adult life. Compared with adults who had no history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a child, those who had sustained childhood brain injuries were five times more likely to have an anxiety disorder. They were also four times more likely to suffer from panic attacks, specific phobias, and depression. Children with more severe brain injuries—and female victims in general—were to found to be at the greatest risk for long-term psychological effects.

Brain Injuries Can Make School More Difficult for Child Victims

The extensive and varied symptoms caused by a brain injury almost always have some impact on a child’s ability to learn. School work can become an enormous burden for a child who must manage the symptoms of a brain injury and the challenges they present to the learning process. Time reports on a study which found that children can experience cognitive deficits more than a decade after sustaining a brain injury. The lead researcher had previously found effects which lasted five years after an injury but now was able to demonstrate longer-lasting deficits. This means that the effects of a brain injury can impact a child’s ability to learn well into their college years.

Children who have sustained a brain injury will likely need help to be successful in school. If a child receives educational services, the law requires an individualized education plan to be created by both parents and educators and implemented by the school. This plan can hold a school accountable for providing necessary services. Tutoring, personalized lesson plans, slower pacing, and other accommodations can help a child be successful in school—even with the challenges presented by a brain injury.

The Long-Term Costs of a Childhood Brain Injury

The costs of a childhood brain injury can follow the victim well into adulthood. Medical care, rehabilitative therapies, and mental health services can continue for many years after a brain injury occurs. For severe symptoms, such as paralysis, the victim may require lifelong care. Severe brain injuries can also permanently impair a person’s earning capacity. All of these costs are financial losses which are subject to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. If a person or company is found legally responsible for causing a brain injury through negligence, they are also obligated to compensate the victim for all financial losses caused by that negligence. Valuing these long-term losses can be both difficult and speculative when the victim is a child. In many cases, expert witnesses must be called upon to project the financial losses which are reasonably attributable to the brain injury.

Experienced Brain Injury Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Child’s Personal Injury Claim

Florida law protects the rights of brain injury victims. They are legally entitled to be compensated for all financial losses which are attributable to the brain injury. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of brain injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive brain injury attorney. We will work with you to protect your child’s legal rights so your family can focus on recovery.

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Surgical Complications Due to Medical Negligence

Surgery can be an overwhelming experience for a patient. Patients rely on the advice of doctors who recommend surgeries, and they have the right to expect that a surgeon will competently perform the surgery. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Negligence on the part of a doctor or surgeon can cause serious, long-lasting effects for the patients who trusted them. Surgical complications can result in death, paralysis, the inability to work, and many other devastating (and costly) consequences. When this occurs, Florida law allows patients to recover compensation for their financial losses from the doctor or facility which negligently performed the surgery. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are highly skilled in negotiating and litigating legal claims arising from surgical complications.

The Many Different Acts Which Can Lead to a Finding of Negligence

In order to be held legally responsible for surgical complications, a surgeon must be found negligent. Doctors are negligent when they fail to act as the reasonable doctor (or surgeon) or similar training and experience would in similar circumstances. Common negligent acts include failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, prescribing an incorrect medication, or recommending a risky treatment when the patient’s condition is too delicate to support it. A patient can challenge these actions by filing a claim with the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance carrier.

If the claims adjuster agrees that the doctor or surgeon was negligent, the insurer will accept liability. If not, a patient may have to file a lawsuit and let a jury determine whether the doctor was negligent. This is often accomplished by each side presenting an expert witness. The plaintiff’s expert will testify that the doctor did not meet the level of care required of doctors in the community. The defendant’s expert will testify that the doctor’s treatment did meet this standard. The jury must then sort through this “battle of the experts” to determine whether the doctor was negligent.

It is not just medical decisions that can lead to a malpractice claim. In Fresno, California, a heart surgeon was sued for leaving the operating room during a surgery. The Fresno Bee reports that the surgeon let a physician assistant close the patient’s chest. The elderly patient, then seventy years old, lost blood and fell into a coma. He remains in a coma six years later. A jury found the surgeon negligent and must now determine whether the patient’s family is eligible for punitive damages in addition to compensation for their other financial losses.

When Medical Centers Cannot Manage Surgical Complications

Medical facilities can also be held liable for the negligence of their doctors and surgeons. There are different sources of this liability. First, any employer can be held liable for the negligent actions its employees committed within the scope of their employment. A hospital that employs doctors and surgeons can, therefore, be liable for medical malpractice committed by these professionals. Second, a medical facility can also be independently liable for its own policies and procedures which lead to surgical complications. If a hospital does not properly train surgeons, supervise new doctors, or assign enough nurses to adequately monitor patients, these actions can be deemed negligent and found to contribute to surgical complications.

Surgical complications in medical facilities are not isolated incidents. The News-Press reports that there have been 335 cases of fatal or life-threatening incidents at ambulatory surgical centers in Florida since 2013. Such ambulatory surgical centers have become far more popular in recent years. Their limited services allow patients to undergo routine procedures at reduced costs, and with less inconvenience. Unfortunately, these limited services also mean that staff at such centers are not always prepared to manage medical emergencies.

Many lawsuits from Florida cases detail egregious conduct and shocking incompetency. One patient showed clear signs of an overdose after being administered a powerful opioid painkiller at a clinic. He was discharged in spite of this and died hours later at home. Another patient reported being discharged while not fully conscious and still under the effects of anesthesia. Similar conduct is reported on many other occasions.

Inadequate care at an ambulatory surgical center was also the cause of popular comedian Joan Rivers’ death in New York in 2014. According to USA Today, Rivers had gone to an outpatient clinic for an endoscopy of her vocal cords. During the procedure, she went into cardiac arrest. She remained in a coma for a week before dying at Cedars Sinai Hospital. In the course of the case, “outrageous” conduct was identified by the endoscopy clinic. Doctors were accused of taking selfie photos with an unconscious Rivers during the procedure. Health authorities concluded in their investigation that the clinic had failed to identify Rivers’ deteriorating vital signs—one of the most basic tasks of any surgical team. Ultimately, Rivers’ daughter Melissa settled her claim out of court and continues to advocate for patient safety in outpatient surgical clinics.

Like Melissa Rivers, it is important for other victims of medical malpractice to hold providers and facilities accountable for substandard care. This protects other innocent victims from being harmed by a doctor or surgeon’s negligence. Reports to medical authorities can also trigger investigations which identify important issues of patient safety. Financial settlements and jury awards not only compensate patients and families for their very real financial losses but also provide the financial incentive for doctors and hospitals to provide safer care. For all these reasons, it is important to hold medical providers accountable for negligent care.

Experienced Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Victims of medical malpractice have important legal rights under Florida law. They have the right to seek compensation for all losses resulting from their injuries, which can include ongoing medical care, ongoing lost earnings, and all other costs stemming from the negligent medical treatment. The Dolman Law Group has extensive experience protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims in and around the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced and committed medical malpractice attorney.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Should You be in a Hurry to Return to Work After an Injury?

Returning to work after an injury is a difficult decision for many personal injury victims. Many factors can affect this decision: a boss or clients may exert pressure to return to work, a position may feel insecure while the worker is out of the office, or the injury victim may simply need to continue receiving a steady paycheck. In any event, these pressures should not be allowed to pressure an employee to return to work before injuries have had time to properly heal. Injury victims should consult with all medical providers and carefully evaluate their condition before making the decision to return to work. An experienced personal injury attorney can help victims explore options for covering medical expenses and obtaining compensation for lost wages through a personal injury claim.

Balancing the Needs of Employers and Employees

Returning to work is a delicate balance of the needs of both employers and employees. On one side, employers wish to mitigate the lost productivity costs by returning an employee to work as soon as possible. On the other hand, an employee must protect his or her health, and not return to work before it is safe to do so.

The United States Department of Labor has issued suggestions and tools for employers seeking to balance these needs. The Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy recommends returning employees to work in some capacity as soon as they are able to do so. This can be done through part-time work, telecommuting, modified schedules, modified duties, and other reasonable accommodations. These accommodations can be helpful tools for employees who are not quite ready to return to full work duties. Injury victims should carefully consult with their medical providers to identify what work schedules and duties will be appropriate and not further exacerbate their injuries.

Many Different Options for Accessing Compensation and Protecting a Job

There are many different sources of compensation which might be available to an injury victim, depending on where and how the injury occurred. Workers who are injured while on duty may have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. The Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation maintains helpful information for employees who are returning to work after a workplace injury. A workers’ compensation claim has different eligibility requirements and offers different types of compensation that a personal injury claim does.

In other types of injuries caused by negligence—such as auto accidents, slip and fall injuries, or medical malpractice—a victim is entitled to compensation for all of the losses he or she sustains as a result of the accident. This includes lost wages for all time during which the employee was unable to work because of injuries. It can also include permanent decreases in the worker’s earning potential. This can occur when an employee is permanently unable to work or can only work at reduced hours or workloads. These accommodations result in a permanent impairment of the employee’s earning capacity, and a negligent defendant is obligated to compensate the financial loss.

Of course, lost wages are not the only reason employees may feel rushed to return to work. For many injury victims, the fear of losing a job is a very real concern. Many employees can be protected from such a job loss by the Family Medical Leave Act. This federal law allows an employee to take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave in a year without losing his or her job. The employer, employee, and illness must all be eligible in order to qualify for FMLA protection. When they are, this is yet another legal tool injured workers can use to protect their career interests after an injury.

Knowledge Is Power

In order to make the best possible decision about returning to work, it is important for an injury victim to get as much information as possible. Start by seeking opinions from all medical providers who are treating your injuries. This can include a primary care physician, a worker’s compensation doctor, a specialist who is treating specific injuries, a physical therapist, a mental health counselor, and anyone else who is involved in the recovery process. Learn what their specific concerns are about returning to work. Consider any conditions they recommend which might allow you to return to work on a limited basis (such as restricting hours or work duties).

Next, be sure to access all the relevant legal information about returning to work. Consult with an attorney about your personal injury claim. If a worker’s compensation claim is involved as part of a workplace accident, confirm that all requirements are met to retain your eligibility for coverage. Explore all legal options for protecting your job and recovering compensation for any time lost. A personal injury attorney can help you consider all legal interests implicated by a return to work—or the decision not to return to work.

Every injury is different. Every legal case is different. As a result, there is no right answer about returning to work. Ultimately, it is important to follow medical advice and not exacerbate your injuries unnecessarily. Of course, it is also important to return to work when it is safe to do so, and not delay your return unnecessarily. Gathering information from both medical and legal professionals will help you balance these interests to make the best decision about returning to work after an injury.

The Right Attorneys for Your Personal Injury Claim

Injury victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a difficult time. Call (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney today. Our highly skilled attorneys will find the right legal strategies to give you the strongest, most effective case possible.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Do You Know What to Do After a Car Crash?

Traffic accidents are often a chaotic situation involving many different people. Unfortunately, your legal rights can be dramatically affected by things you say or do in this overwhelming situation. With a little bit of preparation, you can be prepared to protect your legal rights while interacting with law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel, bystanders, and even the other driver. Once you have safely left the scene of an accident and received immediate medical attention, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The Dolman Law Group helps accident victims file claims, negotiate settlements, file lawsuits when necessary, and protect their legal rights throughout these processes.

What to Do at the Scene of an Accident

As soon as an accident occurs, find a safe place to pull off the road. If your vehicle is disabled, get out of the vehicle and get to a safe place. Staying on the roadway or inside a disabled vehicle can expose you to the risk of yet another accident or injury. Once you are in a safe place, determine whether you—or anyone else on the scene—need medical attention. Call 911 right away and request emergency medical services for anyone who has been injured in the accident. It is also essential to call 911 so that officers can respond to the scene and make a report. Some drivers are hesitant to summon police to the scene of a minor accident, but it is important to have an accident report from a third party. Police officers can also ensure that you receive accurate insurance information from the other driver and that any additional offenses (such as driving without a valid license or driving under the influence) are dealt with appropriately.

Once you have received emergency medical care and made your statement to police officers, there are a few simple things that you can do to help protect your legal rights. If you are able to safely do so, take photos of the accident scene and vehicles. Many camera phones are also equipped with video capabilities. Videos can be helpful in forming a comprehensive view of the accident scene and what occurred. Do not allow your photos or videos to interfere with any police investigation that is occurring. You should also not allow photos or videos to prevent you from obtaining immediate medical care if it is necessary.

Statements made at the scene of an accident can be used against you later in the claims process. Be especially careful about speaking to the other driver. Feel free to ask if he or she needs an ambulance or other immediate medical care. Drivers should also freely exchange insurance information. Other than that, do not discuss what happened or admit responsibility for the accident. When speaking to the police, give your honest and accurate statement of what happened. The officer will use this information to make a report of the accident. This report is important evidence to an insurance company, and it often crucial to determining liability. Be sure to ask officers on scene how you can obtain a copy of the report (once it has been finalized).

Failure to Stop After Being Involved in an Accident is a Crime

The Florida Statutes require a driver to stop after being involved in any accident. Section 316.061 requires drivers to stop at the scene of an accident which resulted in property damage. Failure to do is a second-degree misdemeanor. Section 316.027 requires drivers to stop after an accident causing serious bodily injury or death to another person. Failure to do so results in a mandatory driver’s license revocation of at least three years. Failure to do so while driving under the influence results in a prison sentence of at least four years. Leaving the scene of an accident after a prior conviction for doing so is a first-degree felony. Violators may also be sentenced to 120 hours of community service in a hospital or trauma center which regularly received traffic accident victims.

As you can see, there are serious legal consequences for failing to stop after an accident. It is important to stop after any accident. Even if you are worried about other legal consequences, even if you are not sure who was at fault, or even if you are not sure whether property damage occurred, it is important to stop and fulfill your legal obligations.

Monitor Your Injuries Carefully in the Coming Days

An auto accident subjects the body to many different types of forces which can result in many different types of injuries. Often, these injuries are not immediately apparent at the scene of an accident. It is important for accident victims to carefully monitor their physical state after an accident occurs. Pain, swelling, bruises, and other symptoms can surface days - or even weeks - after the initial accident. Be sure to seek any necessary medical treatment for these injuries when they become apparent.

In some cases, an auto accident can aggravate other, older injuries. Claims adjusters will often try to use this to reduce a personal injury award, claiming that the defendant is not responsible for compensating an old injury. This is not exactly the case. A negligent driver may not be responsible for compensating an old injury, but he or she is responsible for exacerbating the condition. Renewed pain, swelling, suffering, and other symptoms are all compensable in a personal injury award. It is therefore important for injury victims to seek medical treatment when old injuries are triggered in an auto accident.

The Right Legal Representation for your Car Accident Injury Claim

The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of car accident victims in and around the St. Petersburg area. Regardless of the types of injuries you have sustained, our experienced, aggressive attorneys will help you access fair compensation for your injuries. We also hold negligent drivers accountable for their dangerous conduct, so that no other innocent victims are hurt. Call (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.

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