Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Holding Drugged Drivers Liable for Crash-Related Injuries

Because of the relatively low cost and widespread availability of alcohol and illegal drugs, motor vehicle accidents involving drunk and drugged drivers are becoming all too common. When people consume alcohol or illegal drugs and then choose to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, the results can be catastrophic and sometimes deadly.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all your injuries and damages under Florida law. Our experienced personal injury lawyers have the legal knowledge and expertise to help you prove the elements of your negligence claim and obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve.

How Drugged Drivers Cause Accidents

Generally speaking, drugs can be classified into stimulants and depressants. Stimulants speed up a person’s central nervous system functioning, while depressants slow down and hinder a person's central nervous system functioning. Alcohol, for example, is a depressant that slows down a person's central nervous system.

Both stimulants and depressants can severely impact a driver’s abilities behind the wheel of a car. Drugs and alcohol can cause blurry vision and affect a person's perception, including depth perception. Common symptoms of drug use include the following:

  • Dazed expression
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Slurred speech

When people operate their motor vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, one or more of the following types of accidents may occur on the roadway:

  • Collisions with objects (such as guardrails, walls, or buildings)
  • Collisions with pedestrians
  • Collisions with other motor vehicles on the roadway

Elements of Negligence

In order to prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident involving a drugged or drunk driver, the injured plaintiff must prove the following elements of negligence:
  • Duty – Whenever a driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, he or she owes a duty of care to all other drivers on the roadway (as well as to pedestrians) to drive in a reasonably safe, careful, and prudent manner for the conditions then-and-there existing. In negligent driving cases, drivers are held to the standard of care of a "reasonably prudent driver" operating a motor vehicle under the same or similar conditions or circumstances.
  • Breach (or Violation) of the Applicable Duty of Care – This means that the driver failed to abide by the applicable duty of care. For example, if a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver poses a risk to everyone else operating a motor vehicle on the roadway. If the impaired driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident in which the driver injures another person, the driver may be deemed negligent for having violated the applicable duty of care.
  • CausationThe injured plaintiff must show that the impaired driver’s breach of the applicable duty of care factually and legally resulted in injuries and damages.
  • Damages Damages in drugged driving cases consist of both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages that can be readily calculated in dollars and cents – such as medical bills and lost wages. On the other hand, noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, inconvenience, and permanency, are more subjective and do not have a hard-and-fast number associated with them.

Every driver owes a duty to other drivers (and pedestrians) on the roadway to drive in a careful and reasonably prudent manner. When a driver gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming illegal drugs, he or she is in breach of the applicable duty of reasonable care.

Therefore, when a drugged driver causes a motor vehicle accident that results in injuries and damages to another vehicle driver or pedestrian, then the drugged driver may be deemed at fault, or negligent, for causing the motor vehicle accident.

Although an injured plaintiff is technically suing the drugged driver in an accident case, the drugged driver’s motor vehicle insurance policy will likely provide the necessary insurance coverage to compensate the injured plaintiff for the injuries and damages he or she sustained.

Types of Damages Available to Injured Victims in Florida Drugged Driving Cases

Injured victims in Florida drugged driving cases may be able to receive some or all the following types of damages as part of their recovery in a personal injury lawsuit:

It is important to note that in St. Petersburg drugged driving cases, the defendant driver’s insurance company is not on your side. Generally speaking, insurance adjusters will try to downplay an accident victim’s injuries and claim that certain injuries were actually the result of pre-existing conditions or degenerative changes rather than from the motor vehicle accident. For this reason, it is extremely important for anyone hurt in an accident caused by a drugged driver to contact an attorney immediately.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

Motor vehicle accidents that result from another driver’s intoxication or impairment while behind the wheel of a car can be severe and can result in serious injuries and damages to both person and property.

Remember that insurance companies are, above all, businesses, and their primary goal is not compensating you for your injuries or making you whole. Our experienced Florida personal injury lawyers know the tricks and tactics that insurance adjusters use to try to undervalue cases and will be able to overcome those defenses to help you maximize your recovery.

If you have been injured in a Florida motor vehicle accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under Florida law. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Florida personal injury lawyer, please call us at 727-451-6900 or contact us online.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Monday, May 15, 2017

Are Driverless Trucks in Our Future?

In October 2016, a tractor-trailer loaded with 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer made the 120-mile journey down Interstate 25 from Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs. This delivery would ordinarily not be newsworthy; however, in this case, the truck that made the delivery drove itself the entire way. Although there was a human driver inside the truck this time around, his role was to monitor the vehicle's progress and not to drive it.

The feat was launched by a startup called Otto, which is owned by Uber. Otto is working to equip trucks with software, sensors, lasers, and cameras so that they will eventually be able to navigate the highways on their own while a human driver naps in the back of the cab or handles other tasks - if a driver is needed at all. Self-driving trucks are in the experimental stage for now, but experts at MIT believe that they will be standard in about five to 10 years.

In this post, we'll take a look at some of the pros and cons of automated trucks as well as what could happen if an automated truck is involved in an accident.

Benefits of Driverless Trucks

Safety: Because the vast majority of trucking accidents are caused by human error, many theorize that eliminating human control will greatly reduce the number of accidents on the road. This is because driverless cars use a system of sensors to gather information about their environments that is much more comprehensive and precise than the senses available to human drivers. For example, many vehicles on the road today can detect the speed of the vehicle directly in front of them and apply the brakes in time to avoid a rear-end accident if the driver does not do so. In this way, it is likely that the improved sensing capabilities of driverless trucks will result in fewer accidents.

Increased Delivery Speeds: Today, trucks are operated by human drivers who are limited by the number of hours that they can safely operate a vehicle. If human drivers were eliminated from the equation, trucks could operate around the clock, which would overcome the current limitations placed on driver hours. This would also result in savings and increased revenues in the freight industry since it would dramatically cut down on transit times.

Better Traffic Flow: Driverless vehicles could reduce congestion by allowing them to go faster, operate closer together, and choose more effective routes. They could also reduce the total number of vehicles on the road by enabling efficient sharing of vehicles. Fewer vehicles on the road will cause fewer traffic jams, which will result in more efficient traffic flow and lower pollution.

Drawbacks of Driverless Trucks

Loss of Jobs: The most obvious and immediate drawback to driverless trucks is the loss of jobs for truck drivers. Truck driving is one of the most common occupations in the United States, accounting for roughly 6.8 million jobs, and is the top profession in 29 states. In an era when

most low-skilled jobs have been either automated away or shipped overseas, truck driving is one of the last viable careers available to blue-collar workers. If those jobs disappear, it will most likely lead to mass unemployment and all of the negative social consequences that go along with it.

Technological Malfunction: Because driverless vehicles are still in their infancy, we do not know the full consequences of what could go wrong yet. For example, how would a computer handle a situation that required the vehicle to either hit a group of pedestrians or slide down an embankment and damage the vehicle? The technology that runs driverless trucks could also cause entirely new types of accidents, including those caused by hacking, which could potentially be much worse than traditional accidents caused by human error.

Economic Disruption: The transition from traditional human-powered vehicles to driverless vehicles will represent a sea change in the way Americans live and participate in the global economy. Economic disruption itself is not inherently negative, but it always results in winners and losers. The losers from the economic disruption caused by driverless trucks most likely will be the truck drivers themselves, the legacy trucking companies that employ them, the vehicle manufacturers who build them, the insurance companies who insure them, and the legal professionals who represent them.

Legal Liability for Accidents Involving Driverless Trucks
One of the major issues involved in the driverless vehicle industry that has yet to work itself out is how to assign liability for accidents involving driverless vehicles. In traditional truck accidents, a human is responsible and thus legally liable most of the time. But if there is no human involved in a truck accident, how do we assign the liability? One popular theory would be to hold the owner of the truck responsible. Another theory is to hold the software company that developed the sensors used in the truck responsible.

One law professor predicts that, in order to show that an automated vehicle performed unreasonably, an injured plaintiff would need to show that a human driver would have done better or that another automated driving system would have done better. However, the law develops, most experts agree that the transition to driverless vehicles will result in a widespread shifting of liability from at-fault drivers to the automotive industry and the manufacturers and software developers who design them.

Contact a St. Petersburg, Florida, Truck Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation Today

While we wait to see what happens with the driverless vehicle industry, accidents involving traditionally driven trucks, cars, and motorcycles happen on a regular basis throughout South Florida. These accidents continue to cause serious injuries to motorists that require extensive medical attention. If you have been injured in a truck accident - even one involving a driverless truck - you may be able to obtain significant compensation for your injuries and losses. Please contact the attorneys at Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-222-6922.

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

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Should You File A Workers’ Comp Claim or a Personal Injury Claim?

A workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim can sound similar but knowing the difference between the two can be very important to ensure you are compensated adequately in the event of an injury to you or a loved one. In many cases, you may only have the option to file one or the other.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims are structured to allow an employee who was injured on the job receive some compensation for that injury without the need for the typical court system. From an employers’ perspective, having workers’ compensation insurance is a valuable investment because it can save the employer extensive court and litigation costs in the event of an injury. In general, companies in Florida with 4 or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Furthermore, workers’ compensation can cover funeral expenses and pay a benefit to the family of the worker under some circumstances. If you or your loved one was injured or killed at work, it is important to contact an experienced Florida lawyer right away to discuss the laws that apply to your case and the compensation you deserve.

Workers’ compensation claims are only related to work injuries of employees. In Florida, for workers’ compensation benefits, there is a 30-day time limit on reporting injuries to an employer. No fault needs to be proven and the recovery is typically two-thirds of the employee’s former wages and does not include pain and suffering compensation; however, this benefit is not subject to income tax. In Florida, if you recover under the workers’ compensation system, the employer is able to limit its liability to that recovery. In other words, you cannot also sue the employer for a personal injury recovery, with a few minor exceptions, such as if the employer intentionally injured you. There are also some exceptions to job injuries that are not covered under Florida’s workers’ compensation statutes. For example, the following are not covered:

Independent Contractors

If you are considered an independent contractor by your work, you could still be eligible for workers’ compensation. Under Florida law, several factors are considered to determine whether you are an independent contractor. First, it matters what industry you are in. If you are in construction, you cannot be considered an independent contractor under Florida workers’ compensation law. If you are in a non-construction industry, the law looks at whether you have your own place of business, whether you have your own federal employer identification number, whether you receive your compensation as a business or individual, whether you have a business bank account, whether you do work for multiple companies, and whether you work on a bid basis under a contract.

On the other hand, personal injury lawsuits do not necessarily involve employment. Some types of personal injury claims are as follows:

Unlike workers’ compensation cases, personal injury cases could happen in any different area; they are not limited to a working environment. Moreover, you will have to prove liability in a personal injury case in order for you to recover money. You will have to show not only that the person or company you are suing had a legal duty toward you, but also that the duty was violated and that you suffered demonstrable damages. In addition, pain and suffering damages are often a primary component of personal injury cases. Personal injury cases could also be filed against more than one responsible defendant. Like workers’ compensation cases, there are strict timelines by which personal injury cases must be filed. In Florida, you will typically have four years to file your case.

You may be curious what happens if you were also partially at fault. In Florida, for these types of cases, the amount you receive at the end of a trial would be reduced by the percentage you were at fault.

Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims may overlap with a workers’ compensation claim. For example, if you were injured by a product at work, you may be able to obtain a recovery from the product’s manufacturer in addition to your workers’ compensation recovery. When third parties are involved, the case and recovery become increasingly complex. You may still be able to sue the third party under Florida law, but your benefit could be altered as a result. If you or your loved one has been injured and you are not sure whether to file a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or both, it is important to immediately contact an experienced Florida firm that knows both areas well to discuss the laws that apply to your case and the compensation you deserve.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney for a FREE Case Evaluation

If you or your loved one has been injured, your decisions regarding the injury can have lifelong repercussions, ranging from serious health issues to expensive medical bills. It is vital to have an experienced advocate ready to walk you and your loved ones through the litigation process. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed at work, the Dolman Law Group is here to help you obtain the results you need. The Dolman Law Group includes the premier workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers in the St. Petersburg area, and we are waiting to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (727) 222-6922 today for a FREE consultation.

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