Friday, December 8, 2017

Can You Hold a Company Liable for an Employee’s Distracted Driving?

In some motor vehicle accidents, the at-fault driver operated a company vehicle. If the injured accident victim can prove that the other driver operated that vehicle in a negligent or distracted manner, such as by texting while driving or using a cell phone or electronic device without a hands-free option, then the driver’s employer may bear responsibility for the driver’s negligence. If the employer is a company or other business entity, it probably maintains insurance coverage on the subject vehicle.
If you or someone you love was injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a St. Petersburg auto accident case, the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Dolman Law Group are here to help. Our attorneys can discuss the circumstances of your accident with you and can bring all of the proper parties, including the driver’s employer, where applicable, into the case as defendants.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations in personal injury car accident cases is usually four years from the date on which the accident took place. As a result, under most circumstances, victims must bring any personal injury claims or lawsuits for damages within this time period. Otherwise, the law will preclude injured accident victims from seeking monetary recovery for the injuries and damages an auto accident caused. Statutes of limitations in car accident cases ensure that people’s memories stay fresh and that witnesses remain available to testify about the accident and how it occurred.
The statute of limitations applies to every defendant in a car accident case. In other words, if victims fail to properly name any defendants—such as the at-fault driver’s employer—in the claim or lawsuit within the proper time period, then they cannot seek compensation from them. The St. Petersburg car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group can undertake the necessary investigations to file claims and lawsuits against all potentially responsible defendants within the applicable statutory period.
Once you file a lawsuit, if you leave out a potential defendant—such as the at-fault driver’s employer—then you cannot recover compensation against that defendant later on. In auto accident cases, then, err on the side of caution and name potentially unnecessary defendants whom you can later dismiss from a claim or lawsuit after you file it.

Vicarious Liability
The legal doctrine of vicarious liability allows you to hold the owner of a vehicle responsible for the negligence of an at-fault driver. If, in other words, the at-fault driver drove while on the job—and while in the scope of employment—then you can hold the employer or company negligent to the same extent as the at-fault employee driver.
Moreover, if the employee has a bad driving record, and the employer or company knew or should have known about this, a victim can also hold the employer liable for negligently hiring, retaining, or supervising the negligent employee driver.
After an accident in Florida, accident victims must first pursue compensation through their own no-fault insurance policies. However, these policies are often limited to $10,000 worth of coverage. For serious injuries, victims can pursue additional compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company or file legal claims against the parties themselves. In vicarious liability cases, a victim may subject the following to insurance or legal claims:
  • The at-fault driver of the other vehicle Pursuant to the Florida Traffic Code, drivers must operate their vehicles in reasonably safe and careful ways on Florida roadways. When drivers violate this duty of care, such as by engaging in distracted driving, and they cause accidents that bring about injuries and damages to someone else, victims may sue them. Although the injured accident victim can sue the negligent driver directly, the driver or vehicle owner’s insurance company usually provides the coverage. If the driver is driving a company vehicle, the company’s insurer will likely provide insurance coverage for the vehicle.
  • The at-fault driver’s employer The injured accident victim may also have a legal cause of action against the driver’s employer—if the driver was an agent, servant, or employee of the company at the time of the accident and the driver acted within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.

It is important to include employers in such claims as they generally have more significant insurance policies or assets to pay out in lawsuits.
Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Insurance companies are first and foremost businesses, and their main goal is to pay out as little money as possible for your personal injury claim. Therefore, hire an attorney who will name every potentially responsible party in your case, make sure to explore every avenue of potential insurance coverage, and maximize the amount of insurance coverage available to you.

The knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group can evaluate your case and bring every potential defendant into your case within the required statutory time period. We can then turn to helping you obtain the monetary compensation that you need and deserve under the law. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident attorney, 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 7, 2017

Did a Boat Accident Ruin Your Vacation?

Florida is home to many recreational water activities. Water skiing, jet skiing, sailing, wakeboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and many other activities bring residents and visitors to Florida’s shores for vacation and recreation. Unfortunately, boats are dangerous vehicles and can cause injuries to anyone nearby. If you or a loved one was injured in a boat accident in the St. Petersburg area, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Our experienced boat accident attorneys will fight hard for the compensation you deserve.
Florida Boat Accident Statistics
The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division reports that Florida had the largest number of boating accidents of all states in 2016. In fact, Florida’s total of 671 accidents was nearly twice as many as the next state (California, at 369). So why did so many boat accidents occur? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) claims that boat operators could prevent many boat accident fatalities by paying attention to everything around them and maintaining proper lookouts. The FWC also notes that life jackets can prevent many fatalities. Since 2003, falls overboard have resulted in more boat accident fatalities than any other cause—and 87 percent of these victims were not wearing life jackets when they drowned. This aligns with national statistics—USA Today reports that 85 percent of drowning victims in the United States were not wearing life jackets at the time of their accidents.
Many factors can contribute to boating accidents. While no boat operator can anticipate and prevent every accident, safe boating habits can drastically reduce the chance of injuries. Common causes of boating accidents include:
Weather: Rain, hail, and lightning can all cause unsafe conditions that increase the risk of boating accidents. Even the decreased visibility of overcast weather or nighttime boating can create unsafe boating situations by making it difficult for operators to identify and respond to obstacles. Boaters can reduce their risks of injuries by erring on the side of caution when deciding whether to go out on the water in times of inclement weather. Check weather forecasts before boating. Because weather conditions can change quickly on the open water, boaters can easily find themselves stuck in unexpected—and highly dangerous—circumstances. Studying weather conditions before heading out can reduce the risk of getting caught unaware.
Boating under the influence: Those who operate vessels in Florida while under the influence of alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances commit criminal offenses. Section 327.35 of the Florida Statutes defines “influence” as the impairment one’s normal faculties. This means that a person can commit Boating Under the Influence even with a blood alcohol level of less than the statutory limit of 0.08 percent. It also means that any amount of prescription or recreational drugs may impair a boat operator, and therefore incur criminal penalties and civil liabilities.
Mechanical failures: Boats and water vessels contain numerous separate systems made of many different parts. Any one of these parts can fail and increase the risk of causing a boat accident. Boat owners can reduce this risk by performing regular maintenance and safety inspections. Failure to do so can cause an insurance company or jury to find a boat owner negligent, and this can make the boat owner legally responsible for a boating accident that occurs as a result (and thus obligated to compensate the injured parties). If a defective part or system on the boat caused the mechanical failure, injury victims may hold the manufacturer legally responsible for causing the accident. The exact nature of the mechanical failure will determine the person or company responsible for compensating boat accident victims for their injuries. An experienced boat accident attorney can identify all liable parties, and consult with experts as necessary to investigate the mechanical failure.
Inexperience: Florida has instituted relatively few legal requirements for operating boats. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, fourteen year olds can operate powered watercraft. Operators born on or after January 1, 1988, must also complete approved boater education courses. These lax requirements can lead to dangerous situations in which boat operators do not have the skills or experience necessary to properly respond to dangerous circumstances on the water. When this happens, an insurance company or jury may determine that the operator’s inexperience constituted negligence. A finding of negligence makes boat operators legally obligated to compensate the victims they injured in boat accidents.
Operators who commit specified boating infractions must also complete boating safety courses before they may legally operate vessels again. Section 327.731 of the Florida Statutes specifies the circumstances that result in mandatory boater safety education and the requirements for such education courses. A jury, however, may still find an operator who meets these minimum education requirements negligent in the operation of a boat or water vessel. Boaters must therefore accept personal responsibility for developing their skills through classroom education, practical experience, supervised boating, or a combination of all of these methods.
The Dolman Law Group protects residents and visitors of St. Petersburg to ensure that negligent boaters fairly compensate accident victims for their injuries and losses. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of experience negotiating and litigating personal injury claims arising from boat accidents in the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 or write us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our friendly, professional staff offers the personalized service that will help you through this difficult time.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Friday, December 1, 2017

Common Work-Related Injuries and Your Rights Under Florida Law

Workplace injuries occur with alarming frequency across Florida. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that Florida suffered 272 fatal workplace accidents in 2015—more than five workers died every week, simply as a result of going to work. Injured workers, however, have legal rights under Florida law. The experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group fight hard for the compensation to which injured workers are legally entitled.
Common workplace accidents reported to the BLS include:
Transportation accidents: Any job that requires a worker to spend time on the road exposes that worker to the risk of auto accident injuries, and Florida’s roads are deadlier than most. BLS research found that more than 25 percent of all workplace fatalities in America in 2015 occurred in the trucking industry, but classified nearly half of the 2015 Florida workplace fatalities as transportation incidents. Transportation accidents can cause many different types of injuries, depending on the severity of the collisions. Whiplash commonly results from any type of collision. The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reports that the majority of whiplash patients suffer from mild muscle strains in the cervical spine area, and they recover within three weeks without medical care. The condition, however, may still seriously derail a patient’s life. These incredibly painful injuries—which can also strike the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine—might require surgical repairs, immobilization, or painful rehabilitation through physical therapy or chiropractic services. Such treatments can cost patients money and time—the ACA reports that whiplash costs the U.S. economy about $2.7 billion.
Slips, trips, and falls: Slip and fall injuries can take place in the workplace just as they occur at home or in public. Certain work environments can increase the risk of workers sustaining slips, trips, or falls. For example, a worker who is constantly surrounded by wet floors could slip more easily than one who is not. A construction worker who frequently works on high projects may face a greater likelihood of sustaining injuries from a fall. The produce section of many grocery stores is the site of squishy fruit and vegetables that can cause customers to slip, trip, or fall. Employees who work in the produce section also risk slipping on crushed produce.
Violence and other injuries caused by people or animals: Workplace violence is a real problem for Florida workers. Some jobs can present higher risks of workplace violence than others: Healthcare workers, for example, are subjected to physical danger in the workplace on many occasions. reports on a Massachusetts emergency department nurse who was repeatedly stabbed by an unhappy patient. It also reports that a patient who was also a prison inmate took two nurses in Geneva, Illinois, hostage, beating and sexually assaulting one of them at gunpoint. CNN also reports on a series of troubling violent incidents in hospitals, including a gunman who shot and critically injured a Baltimore doctor; a man in Valley Stream, New York, who broke a chair and used the legs to beat a nurse; a gunman who opened fire in a Laurinburg, North Carolina, hospital after a bar fight; and a man who was dissatisfied with his mother’s care and killed two hospital employees in a Columbus, Georgia, hospital. CNN interviewed one emergency nurse who reported that a patient scratched, bit, and spat upon her, and struck her hard enough to break her jaw. That assailant later apologized, saying that he was “tired of waiting.”
Contact with objects and equipment: Heavy equipment and machinery pose unique risks to workers. Much of this equipment comes with posted warnings, and many employers send workers through specialized training before they may use heavy equipment. While these measures can help reduce the risk of injuries, objects and equipment still cause many workplace accidents. In fact, the BLS identified contact with objects and equipment as the fourth most common cause of fatal workplace accidents in Florida in 2015.
Exposure to harmful substances or environments: Nearly every workplace contains harmful substances. Even simple cleaning products can cause injuries to workers when spilled or used improperly. The risk of exposure to toxins can increase with greater amounts of harmful substances in the workplace or the presence of highly dangerous substances. Chemical manufacturers in particular have high risks of accidentally exposing workers to harmful substances.
The Legal Rights of Injured Workers
Injured workers have the legal right to compensation for their financial losses, and can explore many different sources of compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage is generally available to employees injured in the scopes of their jobs. An employer may also carry liability coverage for injuries that occur due to the condition of the premises. This is especially common for retail stores and other establishments that invite customers. Liability coverage can, in certain cases, compensate injured workers as well. Finally, Social Security Disability Income may cover permanently injured workers. Both the worker and the injury, however, must meet a series of strict eligibility requirements.
The Right Attorneys for Your Workplace Injury Claim
Victims of workplace injuries have legal rights under Florida law, and the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and around St. Petersburg trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests. Call (727) 222-6922 or write us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will fight hard to give you the strongest, most effective case possible.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury

Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating of all the personal injuries a person can sustain. The recovery process is long and painful. In many cases, irreversible damage does not respond to any treatment. The instant patients sustain spinal cord injuries, their entire lives can change. If you or a loved one has suffered such an injury, contact the Dolman Law Group today. Our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in protecting the rights of spinal cord injury victims across southern Florida.
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that send electrical impulses between the brain and the body. It runs down the middle of the back, where the bony spinal column protects it. An injury to the spinal cord usually begins with an injury to the spinal column, such as a fractured or dislocated vertebrae, which can cause tears or pressure to the nerves of the spinal cord. This can impair the ability of spinal cord nerves to send and receive electrical impulses.
Because spinal bones can easily damage spinal nerves, certain injuries are risk factors for spinal cord injuries. The National Institutes of Health recommends that doctors assess for spinal cord injuries whenever a patient has sustained a head injury, a pelvic fracture, a penetrating trauma in the area of the spine, or a fall from a height.
In such situations, a doctor may use many diagnostic tools to identify spinal cord injuries. A simple X-ray of the spine is sometimes sufficient to reveal spine injuries. Other times, doctors inject a dye into the spine before the X-ray (a process known as a myelogram) to get better images of the functionality of the spinal nerves. If these are not sufficient, other, more enhanced imaging options can generate more comprehensive images of the spine. A computerized tomography (CT or “CAT”) scan uses a computer to create a cross-sectional image of the spine. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic waves that are analyzed by a computer to create an image of the spine. Both CT and MRI can detect abnormalities, such as blood clots, that an X-ray cannot reveal. In addition to imaging studies, doctors can continue to assess a patient’s neurological status, as well as sensation and movement in the patient’s extremities.
Treatment for a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is a medical emergency because the nerves of the spinal cord control vital bodily functions such as breathing and blood circulation. On the scene of an accident, it is important to immobilize the patient as much as possible to prevent further injury to the spine. Emergency medical personnel have specialized equipment—including backboards, neck braces, and head blocks—that allow them to transport the patient safely. Throughout these emergency medical services, the two primary concerns are maintaining the patient’s ability to breathe and keeping the spine stabilized. Immediate treatment at a hospital may include medication and surgery. In surgery, doctors can remove fluid or tissue that is compressing the spinal nerves, remove fragments of bones or discs, fuse spinal bones, or place spinal braces as needed.
After surgery, physical restraints such as braces or traction may hold the spinal cord in place and align it properly while the nerves heal. Later, the patient may need rehabilitative therapies to help regain motor functions. Physical therapy may improve communications skills, strengthen muscles, and improve mobility. Occupational therapy can improve fine motor skills (such as those used for writing or finger dexterity), the ability to manage hygiene and grooming, and control of the bladder and bowels. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and leg braces can help spinal cord injury victims regain mobility, and adaptive devices can help with communication, as well. Vocational therapy can help patients adapt to the use of these devices.
The Long-Term Effects of a Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury can be complete or incomplete. With complete injuries, the nerves cannot send or receive signals below the level of the injury. The patient thus becomes paralyzed below the point of injury. In an incomplete injury, a patient may still experience movement or sensation below the injury. The nerves have been damaged, and movement and sensation are impaired as a result, but they are present. The extent of damage that the spinal cord nerves sustained will determine the extent and frequency of the patient’s movement and sensation.
Aside from the nerve damage caused by the injury itself, many secondary conditions tend to affect spinal cord injury victims. These can include breathing problems, pneumonia, bowel and bladder incontinence, heart conditions, pressure sores, sexual malfunction, pain, blood clots, poor coordination, and muscle weakness. Some cancers  
are more likely to occur in spinal cord injury victims—one study found a greater incidence of esophageal, liver, and blood cancers in patients with spinal cord injuries. Another study reported that the incidence of a type of bladder cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, is “much higher” among spinal cord injury victims than among the general population. These are just a few of the many complications that can cause devastating secondary injuries after spinal cord accidents.
The Right Legal Representation for Your St. Petersburg Personal Injury Claim
Whether your spinal cord injury was caused by a car accident, workplace accident, medical malpractice, or other factors, you need an experienced spinal cord injury attorney who will aggressively defend your right to compensation for your losses. The Dolman Law Group has more than 46 years of experience in protecting the rights of injury victims in and around St. Petersburg. Injury victims across southern Florida trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal expertise, and superior customer service. Call (727) 222-6922 or contact us online 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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I Was Attacked by A Dog. What Legal Resources Do I Have?

Dogs are beloved pets for many Floridians. Long called “man’s best friend,” dogs are most commonly known to be caring, loving, and docile. Sometimes, a dog’s behavior can turn aggressive and an individual can end up being bitten or attacked. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million Americans are victims of dog bites each year.1 Additionally, approximately one in 5 bites result in the victim having to seek medical attention for the injury.

Under Florida law, a victim of a dog bite may be able to recover damages.2 In order to recover damages, the victim must bring forth a cause of action under a theory of either negligence, negligence per se, or scienter. If the victim is successful in demonstrating that he or she was a victim of a dog bite under one of the aforementioned theories of liability, he or she may be able to receive compensation for losses as well as potentially additional damages. These damages may include:

Medical Expenses;
Pain and Suffering;
Emotional Distress; and
Lost wages


An owner may be liable for a dog bite under a theory of negligence even if he or she was not aware of the dog’s propensity for viciousness. This is true whether or not the victim was bitten in a public place or at the private dwelling of the owner. Under this theory, a dog owner can be negligent simply for failing to exercise effective control of a dog that would be similar to that of a reasonably prudent person. For example, an owner who leaves his dog untethered, even in his own backyard, would be considered negligent if the dog leaves the property and bites a victim.

Negligence Per Se

An owner can also be liable for a dog bite that occurs as a result of a violation of a law enacted for people’s safety. This is known as negligence per se. For example, an owner may violate Florida’s leash law while walking his or her dog in public. At that time, the dog escapes and bites a bystander that tries to pet it. Here, the owner has violated a law designed to keep others safe, and the victim may be able to bring forth a cause of action for damages as a result.

In these instances, it is important to remember that state laws are not the only applicable laws. Instead, different municipalities may enact stricter laws relating to the handling of dogs within the community. An owner’s failure to abide by these municipal codes is sufficient to establish negligence per se.


Scienter is a theory of liability that is more commonly referred to in dog-bite cases as “One Bite

Rule.” Under this theory of liability, a victim must demonstrate two elements in order to recover. The victim must show that the dog had previously bitten or attempted to bite another person as well as the fact that the dog’s owner was aware of such conduct. Failure to demonstrate both elements will bar the victim from recovering under this theory of liability. The owner may still be able to recover under a different theory.

Potential Roadblocks to a Victim’s Recovery

It is not a guarantee that an individual will recover damages as a result of being a victim of a dog bite. Many states, including Florida, have different laws that protect owners from absolute liability in dog bite cases.

One of the best-known protections for dogs owners is more commonly referred to as the “Bad Dog” exception. Florida law establishes that an owner may be exempt from liability for a dog bite if the bite occurs on the dog owner’s property and, at the time of the bite, easily readable signs warning of a dog--whether displaying, as an example, “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog”--are prominently displayed on the owner’s property. Such signage should have given the victim reasonable notice of the risk of the bite. This is, however, not a complete safeguard as the owner will still be deemed liable if the victim is too young to read the signage.

Non-Bite Injuries

It is important to highlight that Florida law also establishes an ability for a victim to recover for non-bite injuries. Specifically, Florida allows for recovery of “any damages,” including to damage to livestock.3

Contact the Dolman Law Group to Discuss Your Personal Injury Case Today

A dog’s ability to become dangerous and bite at a moment’s notice should not overshadow their lovable nature. Instead, victims of dog bites and attacks should seek to recover the damages to which they are lawfully entitled. At the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg, Florida, we will thoroughly investigate your case to ensure you fully recover financially. Call us today at 727-222-6922 for a free consultation.

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