Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage In Florida

Many drivers do not have a full understanding of their automobile insurance policies. We all know that we must have insurance to drive1 and that the insurance will protect us in the event of an auto accident, but the exact details of auto insurance policies are a great unknown.
One of the most important parts of your automobile insurance policy is your uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). These parts of your policy are what will protect you should you be injured by a driver that has no insurance coverage or inadequate insurance coverage.
Uninsured motorist insurance, or “UM” coverage, is a part of your policy that comes into play should you be hit by a driver without insurance. This is also the part of your policy that comes into play should you be the victim of a hit and run and are unable to determine who hit you. In both of these scenarios, your claim would be submitted to your own insurance company for payment. If a lawsuit is filed, the at-fault driver is named, as well as the insurance company that holds the uninsured motorist coverage.
Underinsured motorist insurance, or “UIM” coverage, is the part of your policy that kicks in should you be hit by a driver without inadequate insurance. This often occurs when your injuries are severe and the driver only has state minimum or other low policy limit coverage. In those scenarios, your UIM coverage may then compensate for the difference between what the at-fault driver’s insurance covers and the extent of your injuries. If a lawsuit is filed, both the at-fault driver and the UIM insurance provider are named.
Florida Law
The purpose behind UM/UIM coverage is to ensure that a driver who is struck by an uninsured motorist is still able to recover for the damage they have suffered, just as if the at fault driver had been insured.
To further this interest, the Florida legislature mandated that UM/UIM coverage be made a part of all automobile insurance policies where bodily injury liability coverage was being obtained. In short, the legislature decided that if you are injured due to someone else, you shouldn’t be stuck with no recourse because the other person was uninsured and has no assets.
In Florida, every auto insurance policy that provides coverage for bodily injury is required by law2 to provide an equal amount of uninsured motorist coverage, with only a few exceptions. The full law can be found in Florida Statute §627.727.
Understanding Your Coverage
Many insurers do not make much of a distinction between UM and UIM coverage and simply lump them together. In Florida, the amount of your coverage has to be at least the amount of your bodily injury liability coverage unless you specifically opt not to have it. It may be a better idea to increase your UM/UIM coverage because this type of coverage is specifically to protect you in the event the other driver does not have enough or the right type of insurance to cover all of your losses.
Typical bodily injury liability coverage pays for someone that you’ve injured. But if you’re a good driver, odds are that you fear being hit by someone more than hitting them. If you are hit by a

driver without insurance, you want to make sure that your policy limits are high enough that you’re not getting victimized twice. First, you’re injured. Second, you’re stuck with the bills that your insurance will not cover above the policy limits.
Another benefit of increasing your UM/UIM coverage is that it is usually much cheaper than bodily injury coverage, meaning that you can increase the amounts at a much lower cost and ensure your protection. Ultimately, the benefits of good UM/UIM coverage outweigh the costs and the risk of going without it.
Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation!
If you have been injured in an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact a St. Petersburg personal injury attorney right away. A lawyer familiar with litigating Florida personal injury cases can often help victims recover substantially more compensation than they would be able to retain on their own, so it is highly advisable for anyone injured in an accident to discuss their options with an experienced lawyer.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers at Dolman Law Group, call our office today at 727-222-6922 or send us an email through our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Injured in a T-Bone Car Accident

A T-bone car accident occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle at a 90 degree angle, usually in the center of the car being hit. The shape of the two vehicles creates a resemblance to the letter “T”. This type of collision is also known as a sideswipe, side-impact, or broadside collision.
The reason this type of accident has formed its own slang term is because of the sheer damage and dangerousness the collision creates. T-bone collisions are more likely to be fatal than front-end or rear-end collisions of similar force. This is because of how unprotected the passengers of the vehicle are when hit from the side.
In other types of collisions involving the front or rear, a bumper and a significant amount of material are between the passengers and the impacting vehicle. If hit from the front, hundreds of pound of steel engine and parts—plus the bumper—protect the passengers. If hit from the rear, all of the trunk space, plus the backseat—if not occupied—protect the passengers. Not only does this material and space physically protect the occupants, but it also absorbs some of the impact force before it hits the people in the car.
In a T-bone collision, the only thing protecting the passengers is a thin, 8 inch hollow door. And some glass. Because of this, those involved in side-swipe collisions have a higher chance of fatality or serious injury.
Keeping this in mind, it’s not surprising that side impact collisions kill between 8,500 and 10,000 Americans a year. All cars sold in the United States must meet certain federal side-impact safety standards. However, these standards are growing more out of date each year, which may bring into question whether these standards are really that safe. Click here for a report on the proposed improvements to those standards. Some manufacturers do offer side airbags, however they mostly protect the passengers’ heads from slapping against the interior side of the vehicle. Or rather, cushion the impact when they do. Despite these efforts, T-bone impacts are still the most dangerous type of collision behind head-on crashes (which are remarkably rarer—2% of all road collisions).


Most T-bone collisions happen when a driver runs a stop light or stop sign, colliding with the vehicle who has the right-of-way. As the vehicle enters the intersection, the side of their vehicle is exposed. The oncoming vehicle moves through the intersection and impacts the unsuspecting car directly in the side.
This impact can happen at other places besides the center doors. Impact in either the trunk or hood area will cause a serious spin out, possibly into other traffic. A collision in the center creates a large amount of force as the victim’s car absorbs thousands of pounds of steel going 30+ mph.
Unexpectedly, another common way to be involved in a T-bone, involves your hitting the other driver. It involves another driver cutting you off while you make a turn, causing you to T-bone them. In both scenarios the other driver is at-fault.

Here is a list of other scenarios in which a T-bone may occur:

  • Failing to come to a complete stop at a four-way intersection.
  • Two drivers stop, but then go through a four-way stop simultaneously.
  • One driver runs a red light, perhaps trying to beat a yellow light.
  • Turning left across traffic lanes while yielding to green light.
  • Pulling out in front of oncoming traffic when making a right turn at an intersection.
  • Recklessness and aggressive driving, creating an above scenario.
  • Talking on cell phones or texting, creating an above scenario.
  • Driving while intoxicated or impaired, creating an above scenario.
  • Vehicle malfunction, most likely braking or steering failures.
  • Bad weather, like fog or rain, especially in Florida.

Determining Fault

Sometime liability is obvious in a T-bone scenario. For example, if you clearly had a green light and the other driver wasn’t paying attention and ran a red light. This could easily be proved with witnesses or traffic cameras. But, all scenarios are not that clear cut, especially when the other driver claims something different about what happened. For example, they may claim that it was their turn to go or that they had a green light (the right of way) and you were at-fault. These disputes can be tough to prove one-way or the other.
Some intersections have traffic cameras and data recorders in or near the traffic lights. In these cases, fault is much easier to prove. But accidents don’t always happen in a TV crime-like scenario. They may happen on a back road or away from a recording intersection. Sometimes there may be witnesses and other times there may be nobody in sight. This is why it is crucial to hire a personal injury attorney who has the resources to reconstruct the scene of the accident and to investigate all the details. You can count on the insurance company to use similar resources and lawyers against you.
Another potential complication in side impact collisions is defective parts, as mentioned in the list. The other driver may have run the red light because of their brakes. But who does the blame lie with? The driver? Manufacturer of the brakes? Manufacturer of the car? Past mechanic?
Needless to say, there are lots of scenarios that can complicate and confuse the events that surround T-bone collisions. Clearing up what happened is why we use experienced investigators and employ a reputable staff.

Types of Injuries

Lacerations , contusions, and abrasions
Fractured or broken bones
Sprained or torn ligaments, tendons, or muscles
Hip or shoulder dislocation
Fractured or bruised ribs 
               Skull fractures or trauma 
Traumatic brain injury, like a concussion

Dolman Law Group
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a T-bone collision due to a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Our aggressive auto accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group work zealously for our clients. We will do everything in our power to hold the negligent party responsible for their actions. Whether you were hit by a truck or car, or while on a motorcycle, our accident investigators and attorneys will work for you to figure it out. Don’t let the insurance companies use you to increase their profits. Hire an attorney and get a deal that is actually fair for everyone involved.
Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation on your T-bone collision, or any other personal injury, case at 727-222-6922 or via our online contact form.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wealthy Florida Socialite Moved Illegally from Mansion to Small Room by Guardian Daughter Alleges

In a scathing petition filed by the daughter of wealthy socialite Mary Montgomery, widow of famed litigator Robert Montgomery, a court appointed guardian for the 86-year-old is accused of spiriting her mother from her Palm Beach mansion to an undisclosed nursing home where she is being kept in a small room, fed institutional style food and provided sub-standard medical care.
According to court documents, filed on Sept. 7, 2016, Courtnay Montgomery claims that John Cramer violated state law by never seeking or obtaining a court order for the removal and relocation of Mary Montgomery, who suffers from dementia from her home known as Sin Cuidado.
Jennifer Carroll, Courtnay Montgomery’s attorney wrote on her behalf, “This guardian has abused his power and failed to properly discharge his duties. He has not acted in good faith and has acted contrary to the best interests of his ward.”
Adding complexity to the case is the fact that Courtnay Montgomery has been charged with funneling nearly $200,000 from her mother in Minnesota and has been ordered by the court in that state, to refrain from contacting her mother pending a probable cause hearing.
Attorney Carroll says that people in Florida are pushing misinformation to law enforcement for their personal agendas and the charges in Minnesota, against her client, are frivolous.
“This is an egregious case. Carroll said. “I took it because I thought both Mary and Courtnay are not being treated right. There are so many components to it. It is a mess that has to be unraveled.”
John Cramer, through e-mail, referred questions to his attorney Mitch Kitroser, who indicated that he will be filing a response with the court. He noted that Courtnay Montgomery agreed in March to the appointment of a guardian for her mom.
“John Cramer is my client and he’s doing everything he believes is in Mary’s best interest,” Kitroser said. “Any disagreements are best left to the courts and should not be fought out in the public. I’d like to respect the family’s privacy.”
This is not the first time that Carroll has fought to have Cramer removed as a guardian. She was successful in a case involving Boynton Beach senior J. Alan Smith who was placed in a nursing home against the wishes of his wife. Cramer then successfully annulled Smith’s marriage. The annulment issue is in front of the Florida Supreme Court.
The contrast between the two cases is that Montgomery is worth millions and her daughter is the sole beneficiary. Her mother receives $1.5 million every four months from payments from the tobacco industry, the result of her husband’s landmark award that forced the tobacco companies to pay $11.3 billion to Florida. Her husband passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer.
Earlier this year the state legislature moved to regulate the professional guardianship industry which has come under national scrutiny for bilking and abusing seniors.
The Story Begins with a Routine Trip
The saga began last year when Mary Montgomery took a routine trip to Minnesota to visit her daughter. After she did not return to her Florida home, and fired all of her staff, her accountant Richard Rampell contacted Minnesota Authorities. Olmstead County sheriff’s deputies paid a welfare visit to Mary Montgomery at which time Courtnay was charged with trying to bite an investigator and was placed on probation. Last month she was charged with trying to skim off more than $188,000 from her mother’s accounts, charges which Courtnay denies.
In December she returned to Florida with her mother, after the expiration of a temporary guardianship of her mother in Minnesota. In a meeting that was closed to the media, Cramer was appointed in March as Mary Montgomery’s guardian.
Courtnay learned shortly after that her mother had been relocated to a 500-600 square-foot room in downtown West Palm Beach and fed institutional food on trays in front of a television for entertainment, her petition claims. She is denied telephone contact and given generic medications to which she is known to be allergic, the petition also claims.
The petition goes on to say that Cramer has sought the” least expensive” care for Mary Montgomery even though she has the means to receive the highest quality and is accustomed to such care.
“Cramer caused Mary Montgomery to be taken from her family home of 20 plus years – away from her familiar and comfortable surroundings, away from her social life and care by her only daughter, away from her parrots, swans and dogs,” the petition states.
Courtnay Montgomery, in a separate complaint filed last month, is seeking to remove Hilda Santana as trustee for her mother. Santana is being accused of financial exploitation of her mother.
The Need for Change in Guardianship Regulations
In a series run in My Palm Beach Post early this year, it is made clear that senior citizens are being bilked and conned by appointed guardians in many cases, although many lives have also been improved under the program. It is evident that there needs to be more changes made.
If you have a parent or other relative who is under the control of an appointed guardian you should retain an attorney to be your watchdog against practices like double billing, spurious and inflated legal fees and unapproved purchases. A petition by the Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship is attempting to gather more than 680,000 signatures needed to put a cap on the fees charged by guardians via a constitutional amendment.
Dolman Law Group
Dolman Law Group is committed to fight for the rights of the millions of senior citizens of Florida. If you have a loved one who you feel is the victim of elder abuse by a guardian, nursing home personnel or anyone who is responsible for their well-being, contact an elder abuse attorney today by calling 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
Source: My Palm Beach Post