Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Slip and Fall Accidents May Result in Concussions


When you think of how someone gets a concussion, you may think of athletes playing contact sports or individuals involved in motor vehicle accidents. Yet, many other types of accidents, or even intentional harm, can result in a concussion. One common cause of concussions is slip and fall accidents. According to the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas County experienced almost 32,000 emergency department visits for unintentional falls in 2017, with almost 4,500 resulting in hospitalization. While county-level data does not provide information about brain injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that almost half of all brain injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities result from unintentional falls.

This guide will discuss the medical definition of concussions, how and why slip and fall accidents may lead to concussions, how to recognize and treat concussions, what steps you can take if you have suffered a concussion after a slip and fall accident, and some of the most common questions about slip and fall accidents that cause concussions.


What Causes Concussions?


A concussion is the mildest type of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a direct or indirect head trauma. Concussions cause a short loss of normal brain function and occur when a person’s head and brain move rapidly. A sudden blow or jolt causes the brain to move within the skull, initiating chemical changes and sometimes even stretching or damaging brain cells. Many assume that a concussion automatically means that someone loses consciousness, but this is not the case. In fact, more than 90 percent of concussions don’t result in a loss of consciousness.


What Are the Symptoms of a Concussion?


The symptoms of a concussion are sometimes difficult to discern from other possible conditions or illnesses. According to the CDC, symptoms of a concussion fall into four major categories:

Thinking/Remembering


Individuals who sustain a concussion after a slip and fall accident might have trouble concentrating, thinking clearly, or remembering new information. Injured individuals might also feel slowed down—as if their thoughts and actions are not in sync.

Physical


When physical symptoms are present, concussions aren’t as difficult to diagnose. Common physical symptoms of concussions include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting soon after the fall
  • Sensitivity to noise and light
  • Problems with balance
  • Feeling lethargic and tired


Emotional/Mood


Those who get a concussion might experience emotional symptoms and changes in mood that include irritability, sadness, nervousness, anxiety, and increased emotional responses. These symptoms, on their own, might be a result of another condition or illness, or simply a bad day or week. The key with emotional symptoms of concussions is to take note of these changes in the context of a slip and fall accident, when these changes began, and if these changes are accompanied by other physical, cognitive, or sleep-related symptoms.

Sleep


Having a concussion can also result in changes in sleep behavior. This includes having trouble falling asleep, sleeping too little, and sleeping too much. For years, people believed that it was dangerous to let an individual who had suffered a concussion fall asleep, due to a fear that falling asleep would result in more severe consequences from potential bleeding around the brain. This, however, is false. The International Concussion Society reports that internal bleeding of the brain and concussions are rarely related. Once a doctor has evaluated an individual following a head trauma, it’s okay for that person to sleep. In fact, proper amounts of rest will aid in recovery.

Do I Need to Go to the Doctor for a Concussion?


Plenty of people who slip, fall, and hit their heads don’t head to their nearest emergency department, even if they suspect a concussion. Not all potential concussions require an immediate trip to the emergency room, but a doctor should check out all of them as soon as possible. Not seeking medical attention after a slip and fall that might have resulted in a concussion is a poor choice for two reasons.

First, some symptoms require immediate attention. In the event that someone has a worsening headache, weakness, numbness, vomiting or slurred speech soon after a fall, they should head to the doctor as soon as possible. Friends and family that are monitoring others should take someone to the emergency room after a fall if they cannot wake up, they are having convulsions or seizures, they cannot recognize familiar people or places, they become confused or agitated, or their pupils are different sizes. Dilated pupils are not a reliable sign of a concussion, but uneven dilation might be a sign of a structural brain injury that needs immediate medical attention. Immediate symptoms, like those previously listed, suggest not just a concussion, but a severe one. Injured individuals need appropriate scans and neurocognitive tests, so that a medical professional can guide them through recovery; this might include referring them to a neurologist or other specialist.

Second, if your slip and fall accident occurred because of another party’s negligence, you need to document your injuries for litigation down the road. For proper documentation, a medical professional must specifically diagnose you with a concussion and write this in your medical record. Some concussion injuries can take hours, days, or weeks to appear. You might also want to consider keeping a journal to record anything out of the ordinary as time progresses. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible once you notice any symptoms, so that your doctor may document these symptoms in your medical record.

Why Do Slip and Fall Accidents Cause Concussions?


Slip and fall accidents account for thousands of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, but why? Slip and falls generally occur when an individual falls because he or she has encountered a slippery surface. Slippery conditions include ice, snow, liquid spills, oil, grease, food, powder, dust, and more. The science behind a slip and fall accident involves friction between a person’s shoes and the ground. Slippery conditions decrease that friction, causing one to slip while gravity helps pull them to the ground. In many cases, people’s legs go out from underneath them, shifting their center of gravity backward, causing them to fall and their head to make contact with the ground. This sudden head trauma often leads to brain injuries that range from mild concussions to far more serious outcomes, including death.

In the context of a slip and fall accident, it is most likely that an injured person’s head has struck the floor or another hard surface, resulting in a concussion; however, a person does not necessarily have to hit their head to sustain a concussion. Abrupt head movements can also cause concussions. For example, someone who slips and falls down a set of stairs might sustain a concussion without ever actually hitting his or her head.


Can I Sue Someone If I Sustained a Concussion After Falling?


Florida law permits injured individuals to seek compensation against a property owner if they have sustained an injury from a fall, but the extent to which the owner might be liable hinges on the visitors’ status and their ability to prove that the owner breached a duty of care. Like many states, Florida separates visitors into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Florida property owners owe each type of visitor a different duty of care, as discussed below.

Invitees. Under Florida law, invitees may be public invitees or business invitees. A public invitee is a person who is invited as a member of the public to be on land that is intended for public use. Public invitees include individuals who are visiting a city playground with their children or headed to a park for a free concert. Business invitees are more common in premises liability lawsuits, and they include people shopping in a store, dining at a restaurant, or visiting another place of business for a variety of reasons. Property owners give business invitees implied permission to be on their property for any direct or indirect business dealings, and owners are legally obligated to warn an invitee of any dangers or hazards, to maintain their property in a safe condition, and to guard against foreseeable third-party crimes.

Licensees. Licensees may be invited or uninvited. Invited licensees are most often social guests, such as friends, family members, and neighbors. Uninvited licensees haven’t been expressly invited to a property, but they have an implied license to be there. Delivery drivers and workers who check your gas meters are examples of uninvited licensees. Property owners have the same legal obligations to uninvited licensees as they do to invitees; however, uninvited licensees are treated the same as trespassers under Florida law.

Trespassers. Trespassers who enter another party’s property without a license or invitation enjoy fewer rights than those who are licensed or invited. While property owners are not permitted to cause intentional harm to or set traps for trespassers, they are not required to guard against third-party crime for trespassers. Children are the one important exception to this rule. Under Florida’s attractive nuisance law, property owners who don’t protect their property against children who might be attracted to something on the property may be held liable for any injuries that occur on the property. For example, if a young child decided to trespass because he or she saw a swimming pool, fell, and got a concussion, the property owner might be liable for not fencing off his pool.

What Compensation Can I Receive From a Slip and Fall Accident that Resulted in a Concussion?


If you or your child has been in a slip and fall accident that resulted in a concussion, you may be entitled to compensation for the losses that you incurred due to the injury. Common damages in slip and fall accident cases include:

Medical costs, including ambulance services, emergency services, hospitalization, CT scans, x-rays, doctor visits, and more

Lost wages for time that you had to miss from work due to your concussion or to care for your injured child

Future medical expenses and future lost wages in the event that you go to trial or the defense wants to settle prior to fully recovering from your concussion. Similarly, if you end up with post-concussive syndrome (PCS) or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), long-term conditions caused by concussions, you might also be entitled to future medical expenses and lost wages.

Pain and suffering for the economic and non-economic losses incurred due to your slip and fall accident that resulted in a concussion

Choose an Experienced Premises Liability Lawyer in St. Petersburg


Concussions are typically not fatal, but they can still have serious symptoms that affect those who are injured for an extended period of time. If you’ve sustained an injury after a slip and fall due to another party’s negligence, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden that often accompanies these types of injuries. Concussions are sometimes difficult to diagnose, symptoms don’t always present themselves immediately, and homeowners and commercial insurance carriers do not want to pay claims. These complexities require the assistance of an experienced premises liability lawyer who has represented clients with brain injuries.

Some of the ways a skilled personal injury attorney might help advocate for you include investigating the details of your slip and fall, securing the testimonies of expert witnesses that will attest to the effects of your concussion, and negotiate with insurance companies who may initially attempt to offer you an unfair settlement. If you sustained a concussion in a slip and fall accident, you should focus on rest and recovery. This includes sleep and cognitive rest—turning your brain off from thinking. Focus on your recovery, while your attorney sorts out the legal details and pursues the best outcome for your case.

Call one of the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg, Florida, at (727) 222-6922, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injury. We handle most cases on contingency, which means we deduct our attorney fees from any settlement or verdict that we secure for you.

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

Friday, December 14, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Left Hook Bicycle Accidents


When a bicycle and a motor vehicle are involved in a collision, the bike and its rider generally sustain the most damage. As a cyclist, you are probably already aware of how important it is to pay attention to everything on the road. Even if you’re abiding by the rules of the road, other drivers may not—and that’s true in St. Petersburg, too. In Pinellas County, 435 to 510 crashes involve bicycles every year. Knowing the most common types of bicycle accidents, how to avoid them, and how to respond if you are involved in an accident will help you ride on the road more safely.

What Are Left Hook Bicycle Accidents?


Left hook bicycle accidents are among the most common types of accidents between motor vehicles and bicycles. In a left hook accident, a left-turning vehicle fails to yield to a bicycle in the oncoming lane. There are several different reasons for left hook accidents. First, the driver may be distracted and fail to notice the bicycle rider. When drivers focus on traffic, they may forget to look for small vehicles and pedestrians; rather, they’re focused on cars, trucks, and other large vehicles that could potentially pose a hazard to their own vehicle. Unfortunately, as a cyclist, you may simply fail to register on a driver’s radar. Poor visibility may also contribute to a left hook accident. As a cyclist, you naturally present a smaller, thinner profile than motor vehicles. You may be lower to the ground or fit in a smaller space, which means the driver may inadvertently fail to notice your presence.

Sometimes, in left hook accidents, the driver will outright collide with the cyclist. In other accidents, the cyclist may collide with the front passenger side fender of the vehicle. Regardless of which type of left hook accident you are involved in, you may be left with serious injuries, while the driver will likely only have a few small dents in his or her car.

Common Driver Defenses for Left Hook Bicycle Accidents


In most left hook bicycle accidents, the driver’s argument is the same: that he or she never saw the bicyclist. Often, left hook accidents aren’t the result of deliberately driving negligently, but rather how the brain works when we’re on the road. A driver’s mind naturally looks for large obstacles in the road, rather than the smaller obstacle presented by a moving bicycle.

Another common argument is that the bike appeared out of nowhere. The implication in this argument, of course, is that the cyclist was moving far too fast, causing them to fly into the path of the oncoming driver. While there may be circumstances in which overgrowth of shrubbery or the natural design of the road makes it difficult for cars to see oncoming cyclists, most of the time, the cyclist was clearly visible. It is also unreasonable to claim that the cyclist was traveling too quickly, when the driver was likely traveling much faster in his or her vehicle.

Most of the time, a cyclist bears little responsibility for a left hook bicycle accident. However, you should always consult with a lawyer to be sure that you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law after an accident.

Injuries From Left Hook Bicycle Accidents: What to Expect


After a left hook bicycle accident, you may have any number of injuries, especially if the car struck you directly. Seek medical attention immediately for serious injuries. You should also seek medical attention following your accident even if you think you are uninjured; some injuries may take days, weeks, or even months to appear. Below we discuss some of the most common injuries sustained by individuals involved in left hook bike accidents.

Traumatic brain injuries: occur when a rider’s head strikes the pavement or car. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may not appear immediately. Even if you left the scene of the accident feeling fine, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience confusion, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, or difficulty with balance.

Broken bones: 
especially breaks to the legs, arms, and collarbone—are fairly common in bicycle accidents. Limbs can be broken by contact with the pavement, the vehicle that struck you, or your bicycle.

Scrapes and cuts: 
including road rash, may occur as you slide across the pavement in a left hook bicycle accident. It’s important to have any cuts and abrasions examined, cleaned, and bandaged to minimize the risk of infection.

Dental and jaw injuries:
occur when your face is injured during a collision. You can reduce your risk of face injuries by wearing a helmet; however, it’s important to consult with a medical professional any time your face is injured in an accident.

Internal damage: may occur when your abdomen strikes the handlebars of your bicycle. If you have any symptoms of internal bleeding, including abdominal swelling, tenderness, or blood in your urine or stool, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How to Minimize the Odds of Left Hook Bicycle Accidents


Traffic poses a serious danger to many cyclists. You obviously want to avoid the injuries and expenses that go along with an accident, but how are you supposed to accomplish this? There are several techniques you should employ while riding to avoid becoming a victim of a left hook bicycle accident.

Pay attention to the cars around you. Like many athletes, you may become so focused while riding that you fail to remain aware of your surroundings, especially as your ride progresses, and you may become lost in your own thoughts. When you’re cycling on the road with regular traffic, however, this practice is incredibly dangerous. Instead, make sure that your focus is on what’s going on around you—especially on any cars that may present a potential hazard.

Slow down to let cars move past you. The last thing you want to do when you’re riding is to ruin the flow of your ride, especially if you’re training for a race or competition and need to get your timing down. If you sustain a serious injury, however, you’re likely not going to be able to train for or participate in that important event. You should always slow down and let cars pass, even if it means ruining the flow of your ride.

Make eye contact or wait for a gesture to ensure that the driver has seen you. Before you proceed, always make sure that the driver knows you’re there. While waiting for this recognition doesn’t always prevent accidents, it will significantly decrease your odds of serious injury.

Practice making bail-out plans. Any time you’re cycling, make a habit of deciding what you will do if a car does something unexpected—like, for example, making a left turn right on top of you as you’re attempting to pass. Imagine what you will do in all potential scenarios. Try to make sure that you always have somewhere else to go. You may not be able to stop your bicycle completely in time, but you might, for example, be able to make a quick right turn to get out of the way. When you practice making bail-out plans on a regular basis, it becomes a natural part of your cycling behavior. Then, when a car does something unexpected, you’re already prepared for it.

Make yourself visible. One of the best defenses against all kinds of accidents as a cyclist is to ensure that you’re always visible. Simple reflectors on your bike usually aren’t enough to catch the attention of motorists, especially those who are more focused on making a turn than on checking their surroundings. Wear bright, eye-catching clothing, especially if you’re riding in the dark or in periods of low visibility. Consider adding a light to your bicycle or using personal lights that you can wear, such as a headlamp, to help make you more visible to the people around you.

Respect the flow of traffic as much as possible. You may not always be able to travel at the same rate of speed as cars driving alongside you. When possible, however, try to remain with the flow of traffic and maintain the posted rate of speed. Try to avoid busy roads with higher speeds than you’re comfortable traveling. When you maintain a right rate of speed, you make yourself more visible to the drivers around you, because you are moving at the rate that they expect.

Wear the right safety gear. While safety gear won’t entirely prevent you from having an accident, it can significantly decrease your odds of injury if you’re involved in one. A helmet alone can decrease your risks of head injury by 50 percent, and can even help prevent neck and face injuries. You may also want to wear gloves, a suit that will protect against road rash, and/or pads that will help protect you if you collide with the road. Safety gear might be an expensive addition to your ensemble, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to protect against injury.

What to Do If You’re in a Left Hook Bicycle Accident in St. Petersburg


If you’re involved in a left hook bicycle accident, you may not be sure what to do next. There are several key steps that can help protect you legally, financially, and physically following your accident.

Move slowly and carefully, but get out of the road. As a cyclist, you were hard enough to see when you were upright and moving with the flow of traffic. Sitting in the road in the aftermath of an accident likely makes you even more difficult to see clearly, especially if you’ve ended up sprawled across lanes or are in a different lane than the car that struck you. If you’re physically able, try to move to get out of the road. Move slowly and carefully, evaluating yourself for injuries, so that you don’t accidentally make an injury worse.

Summon the police to the scene. If you’re seriously injured, you may also want to summon an ambulance to take you to the nearest medical facility. The police will collect evidence at the scene and make a report about the accident, which can be helpful in dealing with insurance companies after your accident.

Seek medical attention. Even if you believe that your injuries are fairly minor, you should still seek medical attention following your accident. In many cases, serious injuries may not show up until much later, when the adrenaline wears off. Being checked out by a doctor will provide you with peace of mind and ensure that any serious injuries are caught in the moment, rather than being discovered much later. Keep copies of your medical records after you see a doctor, since these documents will make it easier for you to prove your injuries to the driver’s insurance company or in court.

Collect evidence. If you’re physically able to move around the scene, snap a few pictures. This might include pictures of the car, pictures of damage to your bicycle, and pictures of any features of the accident scene that could have contributed to the accident. You may also want to take pictures of your injuries at the scene of the accident.

Have your bike checked out. If you were in a left hook bicycle accident, make sure that you have your bike checked out by a reputable shop as soon as possible. You may be able to bend it back into shape yourself, but that may mean compromising its structural integrity. Have a reputable shop make all necessary repairs to ensure that your bike is safe when you get back on the road.

Give yourself time. Being involved in an accident, even if you weren’t seriously injured, can be highly traumatic. Give yourself ample time to recover before you get back on the road. In many cases, allowing for a slow and full recovery will permit you to eventually resume cycling, while trying to force yourself back too soon can create negative associations with the sport or result in further injury. Of course, always follow your doctor’s advice with regards to how long you should wait to get back on the road.

Seeking Legal Help in St. Petersburg? Contact Us!


If you need legal help after your bicycle accident, whether in dealing with a driver who refuses to admit liability or an insurance company that isn’t offering the sufficient compensation, call the Dolman Law Group today at (727) 222-6922, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.

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

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Electric Scooter Apps and Uber Expansion

Electric scooter Uber bicycle Injury lawsuit attorney

Uber Eyes Acquisition of Micro-Transport Companies

It is no secret that Uber has grown incredibly fast in a short span of time into one of the largest and most powerful transport companies in the world. The advent of ridesharing apps has not only revolutionized transport in terms of ride-hailing and ride-sharing but has lead to a wave of innovation in terms of transport.
Silicon Valley and beyond have started to question the nature of how we move from place to place and how innovative apps like Uber can be taken as an inspiration to offer unique transport services. Many new companies have ridden this innovative transport technology wave and provided us with alternatives to Uber-like Lyft and in other cases given transport on a different scale with electric scooter and bike lending apps.
However, new technology can often come a period in which innovation runs a little too fast before safety and regulation is put into effect to prevent serious accidents and injuries. In the case of Uber, the excitement over the availability of reasonably priced transportation at the push of an app’s button overshadowed how insurance coverage and liability in case of an Uber accident were still a new concept.
Currently Uber has grown to a point where their recognizable ride-hail service has become only one of many avenues of business that Uber has ventured into such as UberEats. Uber has continued keeping its eye on expanding its horizons by acquiring businessebird scooters specializing in new forms of transport such as Lime and Bird.

What are Lime and Bird?

Florida typically takes a bit of time to catch up to some of the more innovative new apps that make a splash in cities like San Francisco or Seattle as evidenced by the amount of time it took for Uber to arrive in Florida. Since then the implementation of new innovative app ideas has become significantly faster. For businesses like Lime and Bird this is great news.
These companies primarily offer micro-transport services via scooters or to be more accurate, electric scooters. By using the Lime or Bird app, a person can rent one of their scooters at one of their scooter stations for a small fee and then return it to the scooter station nearest to their destination. There are often bikes offered as well that will utilize a similar electric propulsion system to the scooters.
This surge of small-scale transport has already hit Florida with Lime operating in several major Florida cities and many others containing smaller micro transport companies offering similar services. These companies will likely only grow or be absorbed by companies like Lime or even Uber.

What Does Micro-Transport Mean for the Future?

Micro-transport increases an aspect of transportation in urban areas that many excited to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion support. Many people are happy about the move to smaller scale transports like electric scooters and bikes to make small trips in the city but at the same time, this also means an increase in risk for those using these small-scale forms of transport.

Florida Bicycle Accident Issues

Florida is already home to several cities that place very high on the list of cities with the most hostile bike environments. Bicycle accidents have the potential to cause severe injuries. The most common of these injuries being traumatic brain injuries due to the lack of helmet wearing that is also a major issue.
The increase in scooters and bicycles taking to the road will have to contend with Floridian city planning that barely takes anything but cars and occasional pedestrian transport into consideration. A lack of bike lanes and even sidewalks makes these forms of transport all the more prone to accidents involving motor vehicles that can cause significant damage.
Electric scooters can potentially become involved in the same accidents as bicycles. A person on a scooter can easily be struck by a vehicle while driving on the side of the road and suffer a concussion if they aren’t wearing a helmet. Perhaps they may not achieve the same speed as a bicycle but collisions can still inflict a great deal of force and falling regardless of the vehicles speed can inflict severe head injuries.

Florida Electric Bicycle Accident Claims

Someone that has been injured while riding their bicycle may be able to seek compensation for their injuries from a liable party under certain circumstances. A plaintiff can make a case by demonstrating that the negligence of a liable party was the cause of an accident that injured the plaintiff. Damages including medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering can be covered by a settlement awarded in a successful claim.
There are often more parties that can be liable for a bicycle accident victim’s injuries than they may realize. There is usually the driver at fault for the collision in the accident but companies like Lime and Bird or even Uber, should they choose to field their own bikes and scooters, could be found liable for a bicycle accident. Should an issue with their bicycles or scooters directly cause a rider to suffer an injury then they may be able to pursue an injury claim against them.

Florida Uber and Lyft Accident Attorneys

If you or your loved one have been injured in an Uber or Lyft ride-share accident then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about receiving a free consultation on your case. Our skilled lawyers can help you determine your legal options and how to best proceed in a car accident claims process. With the Dolman Law team behind you, you can rest easy knowing that you will have your case in the hands of a law firm with the experience and resources to ensure your case has the best chance of success possible.
Contact Dolman Law Group with an online contact form or call us at (727) 222-6922 to schedule a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-bicycle-accident-lawyer/

Injured By a Slip and Fall at a St. Petersburg Store: Do I Need a Lawyer?


The holiday season is upon us, and ‘tis the season for shopping. However, this time of year can also be the season for slip and fall accidents due to poorly constructed store displays, wet walkways, and other hazards. In addition to the usual slip and fall hazards, the holiday season brings additional risk factors due to overcrowding, like the potential of being trampled. According to statistics compiled by the National Floor Safety Institute, slips and falls account for more than one-million hospital emergency room visits each year.

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident while holiday shopping, do you need a lawyer? If your injuries are serious, the answer to that question is yes. Below we discuss a few reasons why you should enlist the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

The Question of Liability


How exactly did you fall? What caused your fall? Were there any other possible causes for the fall, perhaps something that was your fault? These aren’t necessarily easy questions to answer, but you can bet that a store’s insurance company, the insurance company’s lawyer, a judge, or a jury will ask them. And your answers can have a huge impact on the amount of any damages award that you may receive.

A lawyer with experience in premises liability cases knows not only how to interpret those answers, but also how to examine the details of your case and determine whether the store owner may be liable for your accident. Due to Florida’s pure comparative negligence laws, you may receive compensation for your injuries even if you were partly at fault for the accident. However, those damages may be reduced according to your level of fault.

Proving liability in a slip and fall case means proving that there was a hazardous condition in the store that the owner either knew about or reasonably should have known about. Some hazardous conditions that a store owner can be found liable for include:

  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Loose tiles, carpeting, or mats
  • Electrical cables or cords
  • Damaged sidewalks or parking lots
  • Loose handrails or other hazardous conditions on stairs, such as damaged or irregular steps
  • Malfunctioning escalators
  • Debris, clutter, or unsafe store displays

As noted by the National Floor Safety Institute, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined that floors and flooring materials contribute to an average of two million falls each year. Slip and falls are especially hazardous for the elderly, with about one-third of all individuals over the age of 65 experiencing a fall every year. However, regardless of your age or how your accident occurs, insurance companies and their lawyers will attempt to paint the accident in a way that places all or most of the fault on you. In addition, other ways that insurance company lawyers will defend their clients is to claim that the store owner didn’t know about the hazard or that the hazard was so obvious that the claimant should have been able to avoid it. Hiring a lawyer to represent you with your personal injury claim means having someone experienced at proving liability on your side.

The Question of Damages


The general public is not very adept at quantifying all the damages that occur in a slip and fall accident. In addition to medical bills for your injuries now and in the future, you also need to consider what future treatments may be necessary, lost wages due to your injuries, and any pain and suffering that you endure due to the accident. Part of a lawyer’s job in representing you includes not only determining the costs associated with your injuries, but also presenting documentation of your expenses in court. Additionally, lawyers oftentimes have staff with the time and know-how to obtain complete medical records and track down other documents that can help prove your case.

Without a lawyer, if you wish to pursue a personal injury claim, the responsibility to collect and organize these documents and determine what is fair compensation for your injuries falls solely on you. It is a big task for someone without legal experience, particularly for someone who is also dealing with recovering from injuries.

Hire a Professional Negotiator


Personal injury lawyers frequently negotiate with insurance companies, and they understand how to achieve results. Do you have this experience? After a slip and fall accident occurs, your injuries are usually reported to the store owner, and a claim is made with the owner’s insurance company. The insurance company will often contact the claimant directly, and it may offer a quick, immediate settlement. Those who don’t work in the legal field often think these are fair settlements, but they usually are not. Before you accept the offer, which the insurance company is likely pressuring you to do, contact a lawyer. A personal injury lawyer will not only provide guidance as to whether the offer is fair or not, but will also know what costs the insurance company has excluded in the offer and will likely be able to renegotiate a better offer.

The vast majority of premises liability cases are settled before they reach the courtroom. However, a successful and fair settlement often depends on your willingness to negotiate.

Did You Sustain a Serious Injury?


Not all slip and fall cases are equal. If you suffered a minor injury due to a slip and fall accident, such as a twisted ankle that doesn’t require much follow up medical treatment, result in lost time from work, or cause any pain and suffering, you’re probably safe to accept the initial settlement offer from the insurance company. However, the more serious your injuries are, and the more costs that stem from your injuries, the harder the insurance company is going to work to reduce how much they must pay. Some examples of serious injuries that are best left for an experienced lawyer to deal with include:

  • Concussions and more serious traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Falls are the cause of 40 percent of all TBIs that require emergency treatment or hospitalization, according to the CDC.
  • Broken bones. Hip fractures are among the most serious of broken bones suffered in slip and fall cases, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. Other common injuries associated with falls include fractures to the spine, forearm, wrist, leg, ankle, pelvis, and hand.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries. The impact of a fall can fracture vertebrae or even result in herniated discs. These injuries can result in a lot of pain, a long recovery, and even total loss of mobility and paralysis.
  • Shoulder injuries. Such as dislocations or a brachial plexus injury, which may require surgery and physical therapy.

While these are some of the more common serious injuries seen in slip and fall cases, there are others. According to a 2017 report from the York Dispatch, an elderly man in Pennsylvania was blinded after he tripped over an unmarked step in a shopping area walkway, fell, and struck his eye against a chair that was positioned outside of a tattoo shop. He was blinded by the fall, and a jury awarded him $4 million in damages.

Furthermore, the Las Vegas Sun reported in 2014 that a jury awarded comedian George Wallace $1.3 million after he became entangled in wiring onstage at the Bellagio Casino in 2007. Wallace suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon in the accident. The majority of the award was for the loss of future income as a result of the injury, which he claimed left him hobbled.

In the eyes of the insurance company, the valuation of your case often increases if you’re represented by a lawyer, as he or she brings the power of legal knowledge and experience to the table. It goes up even more if your lawyer is ready and willing to take your case to trial if the insurance company refuses to present a fair settlement.

What You Can Do to Help Your Case


In addition to consulting a lawyer, there are a number of things that you can do to help your case if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, including:

Seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is important to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis of your injury. This will help prevent the insurance company from suggesting that the injury could have occurred or become worse due to other activities following the accident.

Identify witnesses who saw the accident take place. Be sure to get the contact information for all eyewitnesses, so that your lawyer can speak with them about what they saw.

Report the accident to the store manager. Ask the manager to write an official report, and request a copy of that report before you leave the store.

Find out if the store has a surveillance camera in place that recorded the incident. And—if so—make sure that you get the name and phone number of the manager or store employee responsible for storing such recordings. Be sure to record the date and time of your accident, so that your lawyer can easily request to review the relevant footage.

Don’t give statements to the store manager or the insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first. Also, avoid posting any information about the accident on your social media accounts.

Understand the statute of limitations. In Florida, the statute of limitations in a premises liability case is four years. This means that, if you’re planning to file a lawsuit, you must do so within four years from the date of your slip and fall accident. If you fail to file a suit within that time frame, it is unlikely that you will receive any compensation.

Hiring an attorney promptly not only helps you prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed, but also allows time for settlement negotiations and, if the negotiation efforts fail to produce a fair settlement, allows a lawsuit to be filed before the statute of limitation tolls.

How We Can Help You in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County


If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in Saint Petersburg or Pinellas County, Florida, you may still be unsure of whether or not you need a lawyer, whether you had any fault in the accident, or whether the settlement you have been offered is fair. Take advantage of our free consultation and case review, so that we can help you answer those questions.

Beyond the free consultation, if we represent you in your case, you can expect us to do a number of things on your behalf, including:

  • Filing a claim
  • Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company
  • Filing a lawsuit
  • Litigating the case
  • Pursuing alternative dispute resolution, if necessary

There is, of course, more to a premises liability case than just the aforementioned items. These cases can be quite complex, and may take many months or even years to complete. With the Dolman Law Group on your side, you can be assured that you will receive prompt communication regarding any updates to your case, complete answers to any questions you may have, thoughtful guidance regarding decisions only you can make—such as whether to accept a settlement or file a lawsuit—and dedicated, compassionate, and aggressive representation aimed at securing full compensation for your injuries.

At the Dolman Law Group, our diligent efforts and negotiation skills may mean a bigger settlement for you. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, consider the case of one of our recent clients who sustained an injury in a restaurant parking lot in 2014. In that case, the defendant initially denied any liability. However, we were able to establish that the parking lot was improperly maintained and secure a settlement of $300,000.

If your injury was caused by the negligence of a store owner, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek compensation. Call the St. Petersburg office of the Dolman Law Group today at (727) 222-6922, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

St Petersburg Office
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Monday, November 19, 2018

Sexual Assault Civil Cases and Compensation


Sexual Assault Civil Cases lawsuit injury lawyer

Seeking Compensation for Sexual Assault Damages

The trauma suffered by those who have survived sexual assault can cause untold levels of damage to their lives. An individual that endures such an ordeal undergoes significant mental and emotional trauma that can derail their entire life not to mention any physical trauma that can put them in the hospital.
Sexual assault is still a crime that occurs on a regular basis throughout this country and leaves people from all backgrounds and demographics with severe traumas that they often hold with them for the rest of their lives. A vicious act such as sexual assault is typically punishable via the criminal court system and rightly so. Those who have sexually assaulted deserve to suffer the punitive consequences enacted by the criminal court system and face justice yet many who have suffered at these criminal’s hands still have damages that plague them once a criminal case has been resolved.
In this situation, a sexual assault case in civil court is possible where a survivor of sexual assault may be able to sue for financial compensation of the damages they suffered as a result of their sexual assault. However, there are some significant differences between sexual assault cases in criminal versus civil court and many factors that may affect such a civil case.

Differences Between Sexual Assault Cases in Criminal Vs. Civil Court

As we all know, sexual assault is a serious crime illegal in every state of the country although the exact definition will differ slightly in each state. Ultimately, nonconsensual sexual acts against any individual are considered sexual assault and are a criminal offense. As a criminal offense, they fall under the purview of criminal law and court. In criminal court, the defendant and alleged sexual offender is prosecuted on a basis where they are innocent until proven guilty and the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant is guilty of committing the sexual assault beyond all reasonable doubt.
If the prosecution succeeds or if a defendant pleads guilty, then they will be convicted of the crime and sentenced with a penalty deemed appropriate by the court that typically consists of incarceration, fines, and registering as a sex offender. While criminal court brings those guilty of sexual assault to justice, it does not concern itself with the issue of compensation for a sexual assault survivor’s damages.
The civil court provides the ability to seek compensation to sexual assault survivors. One key difference is that the burden of proof in determining guilt is much less than criminal court’s mandate to prove it beyond reasonable doubt with the defendant innocent until proven guilty. Much of the time, the individual guilty of the sexual assault will not have the assets to compensate a sexual assault survivor and insurance does not cover intentional acts. This leaves many that have been sexually assaulted in a difficult position where they may have considerable expenses and other damages with no one to hold financially responsible for.

Third Party Liability in a Sexual Assult Case

Luckily, a survivor of sexual assault can still recover compensation for damages by filing a civil claim against a liable third party. A liable third party could be a company, the owners of the property where the assault took place, or anyone who’s negligence allowed for the sexual assault to occur when it never should have been possible in the first place.
It is possible to sue an employer\ if a sexual assault was committed by a fellow employee or possibly a patron/client of that company or business. A company could possibly be negligent in their hiring practices if it can be proven that they did not properly vet the sexual offender or if they were aware of their dangerous behavior and took no action.
They can also be found negligent when it comes to the level of security and supervision afforded to their employees. If an employee is sexually assaulted by someone because a sexual offender was able to easily gain entry when they should have never been able to in the first place then that the company that failed to provide adequate security could be found negligent and liable for the damages sustained by the sexually assaulted individual. The same can go for many properties that have a duty to provide adequate security to those visiting.

Damages in a Sexual Assault Case

Sexual assault can cause significant trauma to those who suffer it but the damages can go beyond just the obvious. The effects that sexual assault can have on a person’s life can have long-term consequences that cause severe financial strain.

Medical Expenses From Sexual Assault

Physical trauma from an assault can potentially be quite serious. A sexual assault can result in lacerations, broken bones, and other physical damage to an individual. They can also contract a number of sexually transmitted infections that sometimes are incurable. Mental trauma from a sexual assault can also lead to the development of depression, PTSD, and anxiety that require professional treatment and medication just like physical wounds.

Pain and Suffering as a Result of Sexual Assault.

As mentioned before, the mental trauma caused by a sexual assault can be incredibly debilitating and change a person forever. Considering the nature of the crime, it goes without saying that those who are sexually assaulted face extreme pain and suffering damages that should be compensated.

Lost Wages Caused by Sexual Assault

While in a hospital or recuperating from the trauma of a sexual assault, a survivor of such an ordeal may be unable to work and will lose out on potential income. These lost wages can be recovered as part of the damages in a sexual assault civil case seeking compensation.

Consider Dolman Law Group for Your Sexual Assault Case

If you or a loved one have been sexually assaulted, you may be able to seek compensation for the damages you sustained as a result of the trauma you endured. Matt Dolman and the Dolman Law Group team have the skills needed to seek compensation for these injuries in civil court and can assist you in handling your case. Our lawyers are experienced in handling cases of such a delicate nature and are able to handle all the aspects of such legal action so that you can focus on recovery and handling any personal affairs.
Send us a confidential email or call us at (727) 222-6922 to schedule a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922
https://www.dolmanlaw.com/st-petersburg-personal-injury-attorney/

Friday, November 16, 2018

Lyft Insurance Explained: What’s Covered, and What’s Not


The transportation network Lyft can be a great rideshare option in St. Petersburg—especially in areas that are underserved by taxi companies. Usually, a Lyft ride will provide a safe way to get where you’re going. But what happens when a Lyft ride goes bad?

If you were in an accident involving a Lyft driver, either because you were a Lyft passenger, or a Lyft driver was in another car, you need to understand Lyft’s insurance. The type of insurance, the accident, and what’s covered under Lyft’s insurance plan all factor into what you should do next.

What Insurance Matters in a Lyft accident?


The type of insurance that matters most in a Lyft accident depends on who is at fault.

Common insurance types include:

Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Florida law requires all drivers to carry PIP, or no fault car insurance, which pays for the policy holder’s injuries regardless of who caused the accident. PIP policies have some restrictions, however, and may not provide compensation for the full cost of your injuries. For example, Florida PIP only covers up to 80 percent of an injured individual’s medical expenses and up to 60 percent for lost wages, with a maximum payout of $10,000. Victims must file their PIP claim within two weeks from the date of their accident, and they will likely need to seek compensation from other policies to cover any expenses beyond $10,000.

Liability insurance. Protects the insured against lawsuits and other claims. As an example, a 100/300/50 liability insurance plan will cover $100,000 per person (injury), $300,000 per incident, and $50,000 in property damage.

Collision insurance. Protects the insured against damage to his or her vehicle in the case of a collision.

Comprehensive insurance. Protects the insured against damage to his or her vehicle in the case of a non-collision accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance. Protects the insured against accidents involving a motorist with little or no insurance.

Medical payments covered insurance. Pays for medical costs relating to an accident before fault is assigned.

If you are a passenger


If you are in a Lyft accident as a passenger, liability insurance will usually be the primary insurance that covers you and your damages, once you have maxed out your PIP policy. Covered medical payments equally apply to anyone who may be in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Lyft’s liability insurance covers injured passengers only if the Lyft driver is found at fault for the accident. If another driver was at fault, accident victims would need to seek recovery from the at-fault driver, either via a third party insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

If you are not a Lyft driver


If you’re not a Lyft driver and you are in a car accident with a Lyft driver who was at fault, Lyft’s liability insurance may cover you. However, depending on which “phase” the Lyft driver was in during the accident, Lyft’s liability insurance may not pay for the full claim you are entitled to. These distinctions are another important complexity to car accidents involving Lyft.

What’s Covered Under Lyft’s Insurance Plan?


To understand what Lyft’s insurance plan may cover, you need to identify which phase the driver was in at the time of the car accident. Each phase allows for different levels of insurance protection, so Lyft insurance coverage is highly variable.

Under state regulations and agreements between insurance companies, rideshare insurance has three phases:

  • Phase 1. The driver has the Lyft app opened and is driving around looking for customers, but hasn’t yet been assigned a rider. Lyft does not offer collision, comprehensive, or uninsured motorist insurance at this stage.
  • Phase 2. The driver has been assigned a rider but hasn’t picked them up yet.
  • Phase 3. The driver has the passenger in the car and is driving them to their destination.

Phase 1


In Phase 1, Lyft’s liability insurance is 50/100/25 coverage. This means that Lyft insurance will cover $50,000 per person (injury), $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 in total property damage. Experts typically recommend that drivers carry 100/300/50 liability insurance. So, Lyft’s 50/100/25 coverage may be insufficient to recover actual damages, depending on the severity of the accident and injuries.

Phase 2/Phase 3


In Phases 2 and 3, Lyft offers a complete insurance package for drivers. Liability insurance during these phases is $1 million. Lyft also offers collision and comprehensive insurance for drivers during Phases 2 and 3. Therefore, if you’re a passenger in a Lyft accident, Lyft will provide $1 million in liability insurance--if the Lyft driver was at fault. If you are in an accident and a Lyft driver was another motorist, Lyft’s liability insurance will cover $1 million in damages.

Notably, Lyft does not offer medical payments covered. This means that, even as a Lyft passenger, you may be responsible for medical expenses before fault is assigned.

What You Should Do After a Lyft Accident


If you are involved in a Lyft accident, keep calm, address any injuries, and try to get some critical pieces of information.

First and foremost, keeping calm will be most helpful for both you and others involved, particularly in the case of injuries. If you are uninjured, check on the other drivers and passengers. Especially in the first few minutes after an accident, remember that property damage is far less important than your well being and that of those around you.

If no one has been injured, attempt to gather as much information as possible. Make sure you safely record the information--even if you think you’ll remember it later. Names, contact information, license plate numbers, and insurance information will all be necessary to know at a future time.

The standard checklist for a car accident also applies to Lyft accidents:

  • Get to a safe area. Safety should be your number one priority.
  • Call the police. If the police are unable or unwilling to come, contact (or go to) the nearest police station to file a report.
  • Exchange information with all parties.
  • As a passenger, you should get insurance information from both the Lyft driver and the other party or parties involved. Remember to take pictures of all parties’ proof of insurance. Since Lyft requires drivers to furnish their personal insurance policy—not just their Lyft policy—also take a picture of the Lyft driver’s personal insurance. The Lyft insurance will show on the Lyft application.
  • As a non-Lyft driver, you should collect the insurance information of the Lyft driver and any passengers in the car.
  • Take pictures of or record everyone’s drivers license and license plates.
  • Call your insurance company to report the incident.

FAQs


Why do Lyft drivers need personal insurance and Lyft insurance?


Almost all insurance companies will deny claims when they discover a customer was driving for a rideshare company. Personal insurance policies typically have clauses that exclude commercial driving. So the Lyft driver’s personal insurance may not apply, leaving just Lyft’s insurance policy. Unfortunately, this means victims in an accident with a Lyft driver in Phase 1 will have only Lyft’s limited insurance to look for compensation. If the Lyft insurance will not cover the damages, a lawsuit may be the next best option.

Do I contact Lyft if I was involved in a Lyft accident?


Lyft is a business, and its priority is protecting the bottom line. The rideshare industry is still young and filled with regulatory uncertainty, so hire a personal injury lawyer to handle all communications with Lyft.

If You Were in a Lyft Accident


If you were in an accident with a Lyft driver, you may face an unhappy surprise. Their liability insurance may not cover all of your damages, and may leave you facing a corporation that just doesn’t want to pay out.

If you were in a Lyft accident, Dolman Law Group has lawyers who may help. Send us a confidential email or call us at (727) 222-6922 to schedule a free consultation.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Florida Disability Employment Discrimination


Florida Disability Employment Discrimination lawsuit claim

Disabled Employees are Protected by Employee Discrimination Law

Going through life with a disability presents a whole new set of challenges that have to be faced and hurdles to overcome. Many people with disabilities face these challenges head-on and work twice as hard to overcome them. Unfortunately, there are many employers that may view a disability as a hindrance or a less desirable characteristic in an employee they would want under their employ.
Naturally, this is a sentiment that is generally considered to be unfair since many disabled employees do not have their work affected at all by a disability they must contend with. Disability is actually one of the many characteristics protected by various instances of legislation related to the protection of employees from discrimination.   
Disability discrimination is defined as when an employer treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability. When this occurs, a perfectly qualified individual can suffer damages in the form of lost wages and earning potential. These discriminated against disabled individuals can seek compensation in the form of an employment discrimination claim.

Defining Disability for Employment Discrimination

Simply having a medical condition does not always mean that you are considered disabled and have the same protections. To be protected, an individual must have a disability as defined by the law and be qualified for the job.
  • A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).
  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).
  • A person may be disabled if he is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment)

How can Someone Suffer Employment Discrimination Due to Disability?

Employee discrimination extends to any aspect of employment. This includes hiring, training job, assignments, promotions, benefits, pay, firing, layoffs, and any other condition of employment. This means that not only are those currently employed protected but also prospective employees. The interview process and employee application process must not discriminate against those without a disability. Employers may also not discriminate against those with a disabled significant other on the basis of their partner’s disability.
Harassment is another aspect of discrimination in the workplace. Workplace harassment can be defined as unwelcome or threatening behavior towards a certain employee that is done on the basis of a certain characteristic that employee displays which in this case would be a disability.  Disabled individuals can experience workplace harassment in the form of name calling, inappropriate jokes, unwanted physical contact, threatening messages or confrontations both in person or via something like an email or note.

Isolated Cases of Harassment May Not Warrant a Full Discrimination Claim

It is important to note that isolated cases of harassment such as a manager calling a disabled employee an offensive name that targets their disability, may not always classify as workplace harassment on the level in which a discrimination claim would be called for.
In this situation, the manager would be making an improper remark and the disabled employee would be in their right to seek a superior to report the incident too but an employment discrimination claim calls for the employee to face an environment that would be considered hostile. In this isolated case, the manager could possibly receive a disciplinary action and apologize to the employee for their behavior or they could go unpunished due to negligence on the superior’s part and repeat their harassment which could lead to what an employee would rightly consider a hostile work environment.

Disabled Employees and Employers Reasonable Accommodation

Disability employment law requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. A reasonable accommodation is any alteration to a disabled employee’s workplace environment that will assist them in their job or make their application for the said job easier with regard to their disability.
Common examples of reasonable accommodation can include ramps for the wheelchair-bound, allowing an employee to work from a home office, scheduling concessions, interpreter or reader assistance, transfers to more suitable work positions, and providing specialized training. These all are accommodations that would be considered reasonable and the refusal of an employer to provide such accommodations after they have been demonstrated to be beneficial to a disabled employee and it is within the employer’s ability to do provide them, could be considered a form of employment discrimination.
A point of contention in many cases where accommodation is the focal point is where the line is drawn between reasonable and unreasonable accommodation. If providing an accommodation would cause undue hardship on an employer, then it would be considered unreasonable. If the accommodation becomes too difficult or expensive to implement because of an employer’s financial resources, their size, or the businesses needs then that would be considered undue hardship. An employer may not reject an accommodation simply because it will necessitate some expense and an employer has the right to choose the accommodation if there is more than one suitable for the same need.

Seek an Experienced Florida Employment Discrimination Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered discrimination in the workplace because of a disability then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your potential claim. Our experienced lawyers will sit down with you to go over the details of your case and suggest possible options of legal action to take. Allow us to represent you and ensure that those liable for discrimination are held accountable and that you receive the settlement that you deserve.
Call our office at (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney. We fight hard to help accident victims access the many different types of compensation that are available to them.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712