Friday, December 29, 2017

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

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

  • Speeding
  • Reckless, careless, or distracted driving
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) or drugs (DUID)
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Failing to maintain proper turning distances
  • Failing to see smaller vehicles on the road
  • Cutting curves too sharply
  • Fatigued driving
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Abrupt lane changes
  • Driving too fast for hazardous road conditions
  • Failing to take the proper precautions while backing up
  • Failing to abide by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations

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

These catastrophic injuries can result in:
  • Lengthy hospital stays
  • Long courses of medical treatments or physical therapy
  • Future medical procedures
  • Long-term care at nursing homes or other assisted living facilities

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

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Is Failing to Use Headlights in Poor Weather Negligent?

Failing to use headlights in bad St. Petersburg weather can amount to negligence under the law. When a driver’s negligence directly results in an accident, along with personal injuries and damages, the accident victim may recover monetary damages and other compensation directly from the negligent driver. If the negligent driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are different people, the owner may also potentially face liability.
If you or someone you love sustained personal injuries and damages in a St. Petersburg motor vehicle accident, Florida law may entitle you to recover monetary compensation. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and may pursue monetary recovery on your behalf, via settlement or, if necessary, jury trial.
Florida Wet Weather Laws
Under the Florida Statutes, “every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices…under the following conditions: …During any rain, smoke or fog….” Therefore, if a driver fails to turn on headlights and a motor vehicle accident results, that driver may face negligence claims.
If you did not turn on your headlights at the time of the accident, your insurance company may try to say that you caused—or at least contributed—to the accident, and that you are not entitled to any monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. Therefore, always pay attention to your vehicle’s settings and make sure that even your automatic headlights will illuminate you and your way. The temperamental Florida weather, especially in the summer, can bring a bright rain shower, during which time your headlights may not auto-illuminate.
Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver
If another driver caused your accident by failing to turn on headlights in bad weather, you may file a claim or lawsuit against that other driver. To prevail in a negligence case against that other driver, you must show that the other driver failed to act as a reasonable person by violating a traffic law.

Assuming you file a claim against the at-fault driver and the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may pay for some or all of your damages. Damages in a car accident case may include all related medical bills, treatments, lost wages, and non-economic damages, up to the limits of coverage on the subject insurance policy.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle
In some cases, the driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are not the same person. The vehicle owner may have given the at-fault driver permission to drive the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, or the at-fault driver might work for the vehicle owner. Unlike every other state in the country, Florida law imposes strict vicarious liability on an individual who lends a motor vehicle to someone else and who, thereafter, causes a collision. Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, the motor vehicle owner can face liability for the accident simply by owing the at-fault vehicle. In many instances, the police report contains the at-fault vehicle owner’s name.
In cases where an employer owns a motor vehicle and allows an employee to drive it during off time, Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine still lets victims hold the employer responsible for an employee’s negligent driving—and for causing a collision. This is true even in cases where the employer specifically directed the employee to use the vehicle only for work-related purposes.
Injuries and Damages Sustained in St. Petersburg Car Accident Cases
A driver who operates a motor vehicle without headlights in bad weather can make visibility of the vehicle much harder—if not impossible. This is especially true when the at-fault vehicle (that is, the vehicle without illuminated headlights) drives on the highway, makes a turn, or drives through a traffic intersection.
When these accidents take place at high rates of speed, serious accidents and injuries can result. Common injuries sustained in high-speed car accidents include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), muscular sprains and strains, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death. To recover monetary damages in a St. Petersburg car accident case, the injured accident victim must prove that the accident caused an injury.

Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation
When car accidents result from negligent actions or inactions, such as failing to turn on headlights, serious injuries can result. When no witnesses saw an accident, demonstrating fault can sometimes prove difficult—in those cases, juries must weigh one person’s word against the other’s. In some cases, plaintiffs must retain an expert witness, such as accident reconstructionist, who may piece together the accident and determine how it happened.
The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you prove the liability and damage elements of your case and can safeguard all of your legal rights while your case progresses. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators, and they can represent you at every stage of your personal injury car accident case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Truck Drivers and Drug Use Lead to Injuries

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

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

An Ongoing Public Safety Hazard

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

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

Why Truck Driving is Such a Stressful Occupation

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

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

The Regulation That Will Not Change

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

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

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

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

Aggressive Pursuit of Your Truck Accident Personal Injury Claim

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

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Did You Trip and Fall? Know Your Rights

Many types of slip and fall injuries can occur in a busy, exciting area like St. Petersburg. Contrary to popular belief, however, the victim is not always to blame for such accidents. Landowners—including homeowners and business owners—have legal obligations to maintain their properties in safe conditions. If they fail to meet this duty of care, they are legally obligated to compensate accident victims for the resulting injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a slip, trip, or fall in southern Florida, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. You have important legal rights that they can protect.

Common Places for Slip and Fall Injuries
Stairwells are a common location of slip and fall injuries. When a slip, trip or fall occurs on a stairway, the owner of the property may face liability for the injuries that result. Improper lighting, slick surfaces, and other factors may contribute to the accident. A property owner has a legal obligation to identify such hazards and remedy them to prevent injuries. Grocery store produce sections are also common sites for slips, trips, and falls—while it is not always the classic banana peel, spilled fruits and vegetables can become slippery and injure innocent shoppers.
Florida is famous for its well-tended golf courses. Slip and fall accidents can occur there just as anywhere else, and when they do golfers are not necessarily at fault. For example, a golf course that fails to fix a leaking sprinkler may be legally responsible if a golfer later slips in the resulting puddle. Golf course owners have the legal obligation to inspect their premises and make them safe for patrons. If they fail to do so (for example, by negligently failing to warn golfers about dangerous mud holes, or failing to maintain clear sidewalks), the club itself is liable for injuries that occur as a result of the breach of this duty.
Pools and water parks across the St. Petersburg area are fun for the whole family, but they carry the risk of slip and fall injuries. Wet pool decks, slippery sidewalks, slick slides, and other surfaces can severely injure water park patrons. Like golf course owners, pool and water park owners have a duty to make their facilities safe for their customers. Boats, water skis, jet skis, wakeboards, and other water sports also involve slick surfaces and equipment that commonly cause injuries. When such injuries occur, more than one party may face liability. Rental companies have a legal duty to inspect their equipment between rentals to ensure they do not rent unsafe or improperly maintained equipment. Boat owners may be liable for slick surfaces, improperly stored combustable materials, or causing an accident with the boat in which injury victims were riding.

Older Slip and Fall Injury Victims
Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have an increased duty of care to protect residents from slip and fall injuries. This is because slips, trips, and falls are known to be so injurious to elderly patients, and these facilities are paid for the specific purpose of caring for their residents. If a facility fails to meet its increased duty of care to protect residents from injuries, it will face the legal obligation to compensate residents for any slip and fall injuries they sustain.
A nursing home or assisted living facility can fail to meet its duty of care to prevent slips, trips, and falls through:
  • Failure to provide sufficient staff members to meet the transportation needs of all residents
  • Failure to train staff members about safe transportation practices
  • Failure to clear liquids and other known obstacles from areas where residents are likely to walk
  • Lack of safety rails, grab bars, and other such equipment throughout the facility

Slip and fall injuries are a particular health problem for elderly patients. While young patients are often able to recover from their injuries, elderly patients are generally less able to do so. Many studies and decades of research have found that adverse events, such as subsequent falls and hospitalizations, are correlated with falls in elderly patients. McKnight’s Senior Living reports on a 2017 study of elderly fall patients in the Boston area that discovered even higher rates of adverse events after falls than previous studies had found.
What Legal Rights Do Injury Victims Have?
The most important legal right an injury victim has is to compensation for the losses by those whose negligence caused the injury. This may include homeowners, shopkeepers, nursing homes, or any other person or entity who failed to meet the legal duty of care. Many different losses can be compensated. Medical bills—and any projected future medical expenses—are a common area of compensation. Pain and suffering is also common, and it is often the largest component of a personal injury award. Property damage, lost wages, and any other financial losses caused by the defendant’s negligence are also subject to compensation in a personal injury award.

Call a St. Petersburg Trip and Fall Attorney About Any Possible Personal Injury Claims
After any slip and fall accident, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible to ensure that you protect your legal rights. Whether you have been injured in a slip, trip, or fall, we will aggressively protect your right to compensation for your injuries. Our personalized service, highly skilled attorneys, and friendly staff will ease the burden after an accident so that injury victims can focus on their recoveries. Call our office at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with our experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys today.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How Settlement Negotiations Work

The decision about whether to accept a pending settlement offer in a personal injury case ultimately belongs to you, the injured accident victim. Various factors can change the settlement value of a case, some of which have nothing to do with you. In many personal injury cases, the parties must engage in several rounds of negotiations to arrive at a settlement with which everyone involved can live.
In personal injury cases, there is no such thing as a settlement where both sides get exactly what they want. Rather, your goal in a personal injury case is to achieve a good settlement offer, which means that the injured accident victim thinks that the case is worth more but can live with the settlement amount and the insurance company believes that it’s paying out too much but can also live with the final number. Neither party must risk going to trial and losing everything.
When deciding whether to accept a settlement offer in a personal injury case, keep in mind that insurance companies and the adjusters who work for them are not interested in doing the right thing or the fair thing. Rather, they're interested in doing the cheap thing. This translates into settling your case for as little money as possible. 
If you sustained personal injuries in an accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you need an experienced attorney on your side representing you every step of the way. The St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group can negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf and work toward achieving a favorable settlement offer in your case.
The Settlement Negotiation Process
Once you file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, the first step is usually to submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company adjuster assigned to the case. The settlement demand package usually includes:
  • Copies of all of the accident victim’s medical records and bills
  • An initial demand for settlement
  • A victim impact statement

In serious accident cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and damages, the settlement package may include a demand for the at-fault party’s insurance policy limits.
Once the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews the settlement demand package—and assuming that the insurance company accepts liability (or fault) for the accident—the adjuster may place an initial settlement offer on the table to try to settle the case quickly and cheaply. Think long and hard about accepting an initial settlement offer, because these initial settlement offers are usually far less than what your personal injury case is actually worth. The primary purpose of an initial settlement offer is to get the ball rolling, so to speak. Sometimes, at this stage of the game, it makes sense to go ahead and file a lawsuit to provoke a reaction from the insurance company and hopefully get it to take the case seriously and offer a decent settlement. Merely filing a complaint with the court and beginning the litigation process does not guarantee that your case go to trial before a jury.

During settlement negotiations, which can last for many weeks or months, the parties go back and forth, with the injured accident victim incrementally decreasing the amount of settlement demands, and the insurance adjuster incrementally increasing the amount of the settlement offer. These negotiations typically continue until the parties settle the case or reach an impasse.
Personal injury cases can settle right up until the time of the trial—and in some cases, even on the day of trial. However, once a jury trial ends and the judge submits the case to the jury for a verdict, the jury decides what, if any, damages the injured accident victim should receive. By submitting a personal injury case to the jury, the parties are essentially saying that they cannot resolve the case themselves and that they must depend upon independent jurors to decide the case for them, based on the evidence presented at trial.
Deciding Whether to Accept a Pending Settlement Offer
In deciding whether to accept a pending settlement offer in a personal injury case, in addition to the amount of the settlement itself, consider:
  • The venue where the case is pending
  • The potential for increased fees and expenses upon going to trial

The location (or venue) where your personal injury case is pending can have a significant impact on the value of your case and on whether you should accept a pending settlement offer. Some Florida venues—or counties—are more plaintiff-friendly than others, based on the ways juries tend to award money in factually similar personal injury cases. A personal injury attorney will know which venues are plaintiff-friendly and may file your case accordingly.
Jury trials are expensive. Depending on the nature and circumstances of your personal injury case and the injuries you sustained in the accident, medical experts may need to testify at trial and independent healthcare providers may need to complete

permanency evaluations. All of this costs money. Moreover, you will have to prepare for and sit through one or more days of a tedious and stressful jury trial. Most personal injury attorneys will also increase their fees upon going to trial. Always consider these potentially increased fees and expenses—not to mention the rigmarole of a multi-day jury trial—when deciding whether to accept a pending settlement offer in your personal injury case.
Call a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation
If you sustained injuries in an accident that someone else’s negligence caused, the knowledgeable litigation attorneys at Dolman Law Group are here to help. Our attorneys can negotiate your case and help you to obtain the best settlement offer possible. If the insurance company refuses to place a good settlement offer on the table, our attorneys are not afraid to litigate your personal injury case and take it to trial, if necessary.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer, please call us today at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922