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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Common Causes of Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought by the survivors of a person who was killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. Wrongful death claims are separate and distinct from criminal murder or manslaughter prosecutions, although they arise out of the same events. A few of the key differences are:

  • A wrongful death claim is brought by the personal representatives of the deceased, while a criminal prosecution is brought by the government
  • The remedy in a wrongful death claim is monetary damages, while the remedy in a criminal case is punishment for the offender--either through jail, probation, or fines
  • The burden of proof in a civil wrongful death action is a preponderance of the evidence, while in a criminal case it is beyond a reasonable doubt; preponderance of the evidence is a much lower standard to prove than beyond a reasonable doubt

Wrongful Death in Florida
Florida’s wrongful death statute is codified at Section 768.161 of the Florida Statutes (known as the “Florida Wrongful Death Act), and reads:

When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, including those occurring on navigable waters, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person or watercraft that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages as specified in this act notwithstanding the death of the person injured, although death was caused under circumstances constituting a felony.

In other words, the survivors of a deceased person have standing to sue if the deceased person would have had standing to sue. Thus, if there is an accident caused by the negligence of another person and the plaintiff died as a result of that negligence, the plaintiff’s survivors may assume the plaintiff’s cause of action against the defendant. Of course, this standing is not without limits. The only survivors of the deceased who have standing to sue are the person’s spouse, children, parents, or any blood relative who is partly or wholly dependent on the deceased person for support. The suit must also be brought within four years of the date of death, unless the statute of limitations can be tolled (postponed) for any reason.

Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death
  • Vehicle Accidents Vehicle accidents are one of the most common cause of wrongful death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated2 that there were 30,800 deaths resulting from automobile accidents in the US in 2012. Most of these accidents were caused by drivers who were distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated.
  • Pedestrian Accidents Pedestrians are often severely injured or killed when they are struck by vehicles, especially children and the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated3 that 4,735 pedestrians were killed in the US in 2013. Most of these deaths were caused by reckless drivers or generally unsafe pedestrian conditions.
  • Workplace Accidents The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) counted4 4,386 workplace deaths in 2014. The leading causes of workplace death are falls, electrocution, being struck by an object, or being caught in or between moving machinery.
  • Medical Malpractice – Medical malpractice results in a significant number of deaths each year, with researchers at Johns Hopkins claiming it is the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Contact a St. Petersburg, FL Wrongful Death Lawyer

If a loved one has died and you suspect that you may have a wrongful death claim, you should have your case reviewed by an attorney immediately. To schedule a free consultation with one of the lawyers at the Dolman Law Group, call our office today at 727-222-6922 or contact us online.

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Questions Regarding a St. Petersburg Wrongful Death

Wrongful death claims may arise from any accident or intentional act including fatal car crashes, death by hospital malpractice, dangerous premises, defective products, and aircraft accidents.

What is a St. Petersburg Wrongful Death?

In personal injury cases that result in death, the family members and loved ones of the decedent often wonder if they can file a lawsuit. These types of cases are known as wrongful death lawsuits, and they are a common kind of personal injury case. After facing the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are questions common to many wrongful death cases including:

           What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is the legal term that describes the death of someone that results from someone else’s wrongdoing, negligence, or intentional action. In a wrongful death case, the person who has died can obviously not file a lawsuit him or herself. Instead, that person’s spouse, parents, children, or even other family members can file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

           Is a wrongful death claim the same as murder?

It can be easy to confuse wrongful death lawsuits with murder, or other types of crimes because both types of situations involve someone dying as a result of someone else’s actions. When you are talking about a wrongful death claim, it is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case. Even though the person responsible for the death of someone might be criminally liable for the actions that caused the death, a wrongful death case is not the same thing as a criminal charge.  It is also important to note that under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an individual cannot be charged with the same crime twice.  Wrongful death is a civil wrong, known as a tort, that is prosecuted in a civil lawsuit separate and apart from a criminal lawsuit.  As a result, neither proceeding affects the other and a person can be found innocent in a criminal proceeding and still be liable for wrongful death. 

                       What are damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?

In any civil lawsuit, the person filing the lawsuit is asking a court to order the wrongdoer to pay compensation for the damage the wrongdoer caused. In wrongful death cases, these damages can arise for many reasons. In addition to economic damages, wrongful death cases can also involve damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship or affection, and loss of consortium (sexual relations) for the spouse of the deceased person.

                       How do I win a wrongful death lawsuit?

There is no single way to answer this type of question. Any wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in accordance with Florida laws. There are many procedural and substantive rules that apply to these kinds of cases, and only an experienced St. Petersburg wrongful death lawyer can give you advice.  To be successful with a wrongful death claim it is necessary to demonstrate the following:

-       The loved one's death was caused by the defendant or that the defendant's actions or lack of action contributed to the death.

-       The death occurred as a direct result of the defendant's negligence or wrongdoing.

-       The decedent's death affected family members, survivors or dependents financially.

-       The loved one's death resulted in expenses or monetary damages.

St. Petersburg Wrongful Death Attorneys

If a loved one was killed as a result of the actions of another person or business entity, it is important to speak to a St. Petersburg wrongful death attorney to discuss the complex legal issues that apply to these types of cases. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are skilled wrongful death attorneys and they are ready to review and evaluate your case.  Contact Dolman Law Group today at 727-222-6922 to schedule your free legal case evaluation and consultation.

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