Friday, June 23, 2017

Negligent Hiring of Truck Drivers Causes Injuries

Fast and heavy trucks, tractor-trailers, and semi-trucks have the potential to cause very serious motor vehicle accidents on Florida highways and roadways. Trucking accidents can potentially lead to severe – and sometimes catastrophic – personal injuries and damages. If you have been injured in a St. Petersburg truck accident that was caused by a truck driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation under Florida law.

In many truck accident cases, the trucking company is also a named defendant in any lawsuit that is filed in the Florida court system. This is because the trucking company could be deemed liable under agency law for the acts or omissions of its employees. The trucking company may also be deemed liable for negligent hiring, supervision, or retention of the negligent truck driver. The good news about trucking companies is that they usually maintain insurance coverage with very high limits of liability – usually in excess of one million dollars.

A skilled and knowledgeable St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer may be able to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under the law. If the trucking company’s insurance adjuster refuses to place an acceptable settlement offer on the table, our experienced attorneys are not afraid to litigate your case, take it to trial, or explore opportunities for alternative dispute resolution.

Large Trucks Cause Severe Accidents

Tractor-trailers, big rigs, semi-trucks, and other large trucks weigh many tons and are able to travel at very fast speeds on Florida roadways. When large trucks travel at highway speeds of 70 miles per hour or greater on the Florida highway system, a smaller vehicle does not stand a chance in a collision and the results can be catastrophic.

Truck Driver Negligence

On highways, truck drivers often drive like they are the ‘kings of the road.’ Common examples of negligent truck driving include switching travel lanes often, exceeding the posted speed limit, and attempting to quickly maneuver around slower vehicles with the goal of arriving at their destinations sooner.

There is a strong financial incentive for both trucking companies and their drivers when drivers arrive at their destinations ahead of schedule. Many truck drivers will receive large financial bonuses for driving fast and delivering cargo quickly. However, truck drivers still have an affirmative duty to drive reasonably and carefully when they operate their vehicles on Florida roadways. When they fail to do so and cause a motor vehicle accident, they can be held liable for the injuries and damages they cause to injured accident victims.

Potential Liability of Trucking Companies

Trucking companies can be held secondarily liable for a trucking accident under a vicarious liability theory of recovery. Depending upon the circumstances, the trucking company could also be on the line for negligent hiring, retention, or supervision of a negligent employee truck driver – especially in cases where the truck driver has caused similar accidents in the past.

It is important to note that trucking companies are not only responsible for dispatching competent, careful, and safe truck drivers, but they are also responsible for ensuring that these drivers (as well as the companies themselves) comply with all applicable state and federal trucking regulations.

All too often, however, trucking companies prioritize profits over safety, thereby endangering the lives of all other drivers on the roadway. What follows are just a few ways in which trucking companies may be held responsible for an employee truck driver’s negligence:

  • The trucking company fails to train drivers appropriately and thoroughly regarding proper driving techniques, safety concerns, emergency procedures, and defensive driving skills and tactics.
  • The trucking company fails to thoroughly screen driver applicants by researching their driving histories (including criminal histories of drunk driving or other alcohol-related driving offenses and reckless/negligent driving convictions).
  • The trucking company offers bonuses or other monetary compensation when truck drivers deliver their cargo to its destination sooner, encouraging them to drive fast and to drive even while fatigued.
  • The trucking company creates unrealistic driving schedules and expectations, encouraging truck drivers to drive in a hurried, careless, or reckless manner. 
  • The trucking company fails to equip trucks with the necessary safety equipment, including blinking lights, reflective lights, undercarriage lights – or to properly and timely replace lights that have burnt out. 
  • The trucking company fails to adequately supervise employee drivers, monitor their driving performance, and ensure that drivers keep up with all CDL requirements.
  • The trucking company fails to terminate truck drivers who sustain one or more careless, reckless, or drunk driving convictions over the course of their employment with the trucking company.
  • The trucking company fails to ensure that timely and adequate repairs are made on trucks, tractor-trailers, or big rigs.

Common Injuries Sustained by Truck Accident Victims

When trucking companies take shortcuts during the hiring process or fail to adequately supervise their employees, serious accidents can result. While smaller-scale rear-end collisions and other minor car accidents tend to result in only soft tissue injuries, truck accidents have the potential to bring about more severe and catastrophic injuries and damages – due in part to the large size of the truck and the potential hard and fast impact.

Serious injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents involving trucks oftentimes include concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s), fractures, muscular tears, internal bleeding, spinal cord injuries, and other types of permanent impairment, including death.

Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Truck Accident Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you or someone you love has sustained severe and catastrophic injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving a large truck, it is essential that you have experienced legal representation on  

your side throughout your case. You should know that many insurance companies try to undervalue truck accident cases and attempt to shift some – or all – of the blame for the accident on the innocent accident victim. The insurance companies do this by pointing to an accident victim’s prior injuries or preexisting conditions, if any, or to the plaintiff’s negligence while driving.

An experienced Florida truck accident attorney at Dolman Law Group will have the necessary skills and legal expertise to combat the insurance company and can help you to receive a fair value for your case via settlement, alternative dispute resolution, or trial. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a truck accident attorney, please call us today or contact us online.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hazards That Cause You to Trip and Fall

Even a simple slip, trip or fall can cause injuries which will affect your life for years to come. If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident, it is important to consult with a doctor to make sure you receive all necessary medical attention and do not have any latent injuries. You should also protect your legal rights by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. The aggressive attorneys at the Dolman Law Group will fight for your right to be compensated for your injuries.
The Severity of Slip and Fall Injuries
When discussing trips, slips, and falls, most people imagine a small accident that led to slight pain and embarrassment. The reality is that slips and falls can have a serious, long-lasting impact on your life:
-Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The severity of a TBI can range from a simple concussion to permanent cognitive impairment. In the most severe cases, traumatic brain injuries cause death.

-Any slip or fall puts you at risk for sustaining a bone fracture. The severity of a bone fracture increases with age. Many elderly fall patients find that both their mobility and ability to live independently are permanently impaired after a fall.

-Pain is the most common outcome of a trip, slip or fall. It is not possible to know how long the pain will last immediately after an accident. If nerves are damaged, the pain can be permanent. Pain management is a complicated, ongoing process that can involve many different types of healthcare providers. For many fall victims, pain management becomes far more complicated that taking the occasional aspirin.

-The spine is particularly susceptible to slip and fall injuries. Not only can it sustain cuts and bruises, but it holds the potential for far more severe (and painful) neurological injuries. Slipped disks, inflamed disks, broken vertebrae, and other severe injuries can occur during even a minor slip or fall.

-In Santa Monica, California, a woman dislocated her shoulder after tripping on a badly defective part of the sidewalk. (The sidewalk was, in fact, so bad that the city had already put it on a repair list prior to the accident occurring.) The shoulder dislocation was severe enough to require surgery.

-In August 2009, Chad Felts slipped on a freshly mopped floor at a Quiktrip Convenience Store. He required two back surgeries and incurred about $42,000 in medical bills. A jury awarded Mr. Felts $3.5 million for his injuries and his inability to work.

-On July 9, 2012, a woman slipped and fell in a Dollar General Store in Mobile, Alabama. She required eight surgeries and 395 doctor visits which amassed $470,000 in medical bills. She was also permanently disabled by the accident. A jury awarded her $1.725 million at trial.

-In December 2013, Melissa Horton slipped on a freshly-mopped floor at a Target store in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The resulting fall tore her hamstring out of her hip socket. This injury required surgical repair and use of a body brace. A jury awarded Ms. Horton $2.1 million in noneconomic damages for her excruciatingly painful injuries.

-An 84-year-old man slipped and broke his femur at a Safeway chain grocery store in Portland, Oregon. Christopher Armstrong Stephenson was awarded $102,000 in medical and therapy expenses and $525,000 for pain and suffering. The jury also delivered a $1 million verdict in punitive damages against Safeway. While 70% of this punitive award went to local court initiatives (and not to the plaintiff), the jury sent a clear message to Safeway about its handling of the case.
Why Slip and Fall Accidents are Particularly Dangerous for Elderly Victims
The statistics on slips, trips, and falls among the elderly are staggering. According to the National Council on Aging:
  • An older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall once every eleven seconds. Once every nineteen minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. 
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury for older adults. (The Centers for Disease Control reported this in 2016, as well.)
  • In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion. This is expected to increase rapidly as the population ages, and is projected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

Aging, in and of itself, does not cause falls. The effects of aging (such as muscle weakness, medications which cause dizziness, the need for better footwear support, and poor eyesight) also make a person more likely to sustain a slip or fall. These can be addressed with proper safety measures:
  • Physicians should review medications to identify side effects of dizziness. Vitamin D supplements should also be considered to reduce the risk of falls. 
  • Have an eye exam at least once each year, and be sure to update your prescription as necessary. 
  • Inspect your home for tripping hazards. Rugs, blankets, clutter, and other debris can all increase the chance of tripping. 
  • Install grab bars near any tubs, toilets, and other slippery locations. 
  • Inspect any stair railings. Replace and update as necessary.
  • Look into programs that strengthen leg muscles and improve balance (such as yoga or tai chi).  
  • It is also important to overcome stereotypes about falls. Many older adults feel embarrassed about the lack of control, or the effects of aging. An offer to help repair tripping hazards around the house can help you approach the subject without stigma.
Contact an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today
Contact the Dolman Law Group today to learn about your legal rights after a slip and fall accident. Whether you have been injured in a slip, trip, or fall, we will aggressively protect your right to be compensated for your injuries. Our St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in pursuing personal injury claims, and our professional staff will offer the personalized service you need after an accident. Call our office at (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bicycle Accidents: A Guide for Victims

Over the past few years, bicycling has increased in popularity from a weekend leisure activity to a legitimate mode of transportation for many people, especially urban dwellers. There are many advantages to biking rather than driving a car, including a much lower (or nonexistent) gas bill and increased physical activity. However, cyclists must remember that they share the road with much larger vehicles and are often cycling on roads that were not designed with bicycles in mind. As such, accidents can and do happen, and all cyclists need to be aware of their rights and responsibilities following a bicycle accident.

Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents are caused mostly by either collisions with automobiles or poor road conditions, which are each explained further below.

Collisions between bicycles and automobiles are especially dangerous because automobiles are larger and faster than bicycles, and the only safety feature available to most cyclists is a simple helmet. Below are some of the most common accident scenarios between automobiles and bicycles.

-The right cross: This is the most common type of bicycle/vehicle accident. It occurs when a car pulls out from the right and either hits a cyclist or a cyclist hits the car. To minimize this risk, get a headlight for your bike and ride farther left into the lane.
-The left cross: This accident occurs when a car is approaching from the opposite direction and turns left in front of a cyclist or into the cyclist. If you’re a cyclist, minimize this risk by getting a headlight for your bike, not passing cars on the right, and making eye contact with the drivers opposite of you who are preparing to turn.
-The right hook: This happens when a car is passing to the left side of a cyclist and then makes an abrupt right turn just in front of the cyclist or directly into him. Minimize this risk by riding fully in the lane rather than too far to the right.
-The opened door: This accident occurs when a car that is parallel parked opens its door right in front of a cyclist, causing the cyclist to hit it or be forced into the path of a moving car. Avoid this by riding farther left into the lane.
-The wrong way: Occurs when a cyclist is riding on the wrong side of the road and a car pulling out from the left does not see him and hits him. Avoid this by never riding against traffic.

Most roads in the United States are designed for automobiles first and foremost, often with little attention paid to bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation. As such, there are many road conditions that pose no risk for automobiles but can be extremely dangerous or even deadly for bicyclists. Below are some of the most common road conditions that could cause a bicycle accident.

-Potholes: Riding over a pothole can cause a number of problems for bicyclists, from

puncturing a tire to throwing the cyclists from the bicycle onto the pavement, possibly into the path of moving vehicles.
-Road paint: Applying paint to a roadway fills the asphalt's texture, which reduces the amount of grip a bicycle's tires can exert on the road, especially when the road is wet. Riding over painted lines too quickly or at the wrong angle could cause the bicycle to slip out from under the cyclist.
-Sewer grates: Any type of metal (like manhole covers or steel plates) can be dangerous for cyclists, especially when they are wet, but sewer grates pose a particular hazard because they have long, rectangular holes in them that can grab a bicycle's tire. When this happens, the cyclist could be thrown from the bicycle.
-Railroad tracks: Railroad tracks are rough, uneven surfaces that can cause a cyclist to lose their balance and fall.

In Florida, bicycles are legally defined as vehicles and bicyclists are considered drivers. As such, bicyclists are subject to the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of automobiles when they are on Florida roads. This means that they must follow all regular traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, and yielding right of way when required. Because bicyclists are subject to the same rules as automobile drivers, liability for accidents between bicycles and automobiles is determined on the same basis as liability for accidents between two vehicles--that is, the law is primarily concerned with determining who was at fault for the accident. Determinations of fault in automobile accidents usually come down to a determination of who had the right of way when the accident occurred. If the bicyclist had the right of way when they were struck by a vehicle, then the driver of the vehicle will be at fault in the accident.

The steps that a bicyclist should take after an accident are very similar to the steps any driver should take after any accident.

  • Do not apologize or attempt to negotiate with the driver
  • Get the name, phone number, driver's license number, license plate number, and insurance information of the driver
  • Get the name and phone numbers of any witnesses who saw what happened
  • Call the police and get your version of events into the official record
  • Do not pick up your bike or attempt to clean the scene until the police arrive so that they can document exactly what happened
  • Seek medical attention for any injuries you sustained and document all medical care you receive. 
  • Do not talk to the driver's insurance company 

Contact a St. Petersburg Bicycle Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may need legal counsel to protect your rights and ensure that you are compensated fairly. Please contact the expert bicycle accident attorneys at the 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