Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Is Failing to Use Headlights in Poor Weather Negligent?




Failing to use headlights in bad St. Petersburg weather can amount to negligence under the law. When a driver’s negligence directly results in an accident, along with personal injuries and damages, the accident victim may recover monetary damages and other compensation directly from the negligent driver. If the negligent driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are different people, the owner may also potentially face liability.


If you or someone you love sustained personal injuries and damages in a St. Petersburg motor vehicle accident, Florida law may entitle you to recover monetary compensation. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and may pursue monetary recovery on your behalf, via settlement or, if necessary, jury trial.

Florida Wet Weather Laws


Under the Florida Statutes, “every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices…under the following conditions: …During any rain, smoke or fog….” Therefore, if a driver fails to turn on headlights and a motor vehicle accident results, that driver may face negligence claims.

If you did not turn on your headlights at the time of the accident, your insurance company may try to say that you caused—or at least contributed—to the accident, and that you are not entitled to any monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. Therefore, always pay attention to your vehicle’s settings and make sure that even your automatic headlights will illuminate you and your way. The temperamental Florida weather, especially in the summer, can bring a bright rain shower, during which time your headlights may not auto-illuminate.

Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver


If another driver caused your accident by failing to turn on headlights in bad weather, you may file a claim or lawsuit against that other driver. To prevail in a negligence case against that other driver, you must show that the other driver failed to act as a reasonable person by violating a traffic law.

Assuming you file a claim against the at-fault driver and the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may pay for some or all of your damages. Damages in a car accident case may include all related medical bills, treatments, lost wages, and non-economic damages, up to the limits of coverage on the subject insurance policy.

Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle


In some cases, the driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are not the same person. The vehicle owner may have given the at-fault driver permission to drive the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, or the at-fault driver might work for the vehicle owner. Unlike every other state in the country, Florida law imposes strict vicarious liability on an individual who lends a motor vehicle to someone else and who, thereafter, causes a collision. Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, the motor vehicle owner can face liability for the accident simply by owing the at-fault vehicle. In many instances, the police report contains the at-fault vehicle owner’s name.

In cases where an employer owns a motor vehicle and allows an employee to drive it during off time, Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine still lets victims hold the employer responsible for an employee’s negligent driving—and for causing a collision. This is true even in cases where the employer specifically directed the employee to use the vehicle only for work-related purposes.


Injuries and Damages Sustained in St. Petersburg Car Accident Cases


A driver who operates a motor vehicle without headlights in bad weather can make visibility of the vehicle much harder—if not impossible. This is especially true when the at-fault vehicle (that is, the vehicle without illuminated headlights) drives on the highway, makes a turn, or drives through a traffic intersection.

When these accidents take place at high rates of speed, serious accidents and injuries can result. Common injuries sustained in high-speed car accidents include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), muscular sprains and strains, broken bones, neck and spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death. To recover monetary damages in a St. Petersburg car accident case, the injured accident victim must prove that the accident caused an injury.

Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation


When car accidents result from negligent actions or inactions, such as failing to turn on headlights, serious injuries can result. When no witnesses saw an accident, demonstrating fault can sometimes prove difficult—in those cases, juries must weigh one person’s word against the other’s. In some cases, plaintiffs must retain an expert witness, such as accident reconstructionist, who may piece together the accident and determine how it happened.

The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you prove the liability and damage elements of your case and can safeguard all of your legal rights while your case progresses. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators, and they can represent you at every stage of your personal injury car accident case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.

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

Watch out for the No-Zones Around Large Trucks




Large blind spots, long stopping distances, and wide turn radiuses can make large trucks and tractor trailers hazardous. As such, drivers must know these limitations when they operate their motor vehicles on St. Petersburg roadways. In some instances, however, accidents still take place as a result of a truck driver’s negligence. For example, the truck driver may not properly calculate a stop or turn distance or radius, bringing about a serious collision with a smaller motor vehicle.

Truck accidents can result in serious and catastrophic injuries and damages, including permanent disabilities that may require long-term care and medical treatments. If you or a loved one sustained a serious injury in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence, Florida law may entitle you to pursue monetary compensation under the law. The experienced St. Petersburg truck accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case, negotiate with the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer on your behalf, or litigate your case through the court system if necessary.

No Zones and Other Potentially Hazardous Areas


Commercial truck drivers have extremely limited visibility—large blind spots oftentimes referred to as no zones—around the front, back, and sides of their long vehicles. Other motor vehicle drivers should do their best to stay out of these hazardous areas.

Large commercial trucks also require longer following distances than most smaller vehicles. As a general rule, if you cannot see the truck’s side view mirrors, the truck driver cannot see you. Similarly, drivers should take care when passing large trucks due to the truck driver’s limited visibility, and should take particular care to stay out of a truck driver’s blind spots when a truck turns, backs up, or changes lanes on busy highways or roadways.

Negligent St. Petersburg Truck Drivers


No matter how careful motorists drive around commercial trucks, serious accidents and injuries can still take place. Drivers of large, heavy, and fast trucks and tractor-trailers can cause serious accidents and personal injuries when they ignore or violate Florida Rules of the Road. Common examples of St. Petersburg truck driver negligence include:

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

When truck drivers fail to operate their trucks in safe, careful, and reasonably prudent ways, serious accidents and injuries can result—including rear-end accidents; multi-vehicle, chain-reaction collisions; tractor or trailer overturns; chemical waste spills; or trailer cargo dislodging from the trailer onto the roadway.

Parties Responsible for Truck Accidents


When truck and tractor-trailer drivers operate their vehicles in negligent ways, victims can obviously hold them responsible, firsthand, for the injuries and damages they cause. However, if the trucker drove negligently while in the scope of employment with a trucking company, the trucking company could face secondary liability for the accident—as well as for any injuries and damages sustained.

A trucking company may also face responsibility for negligently entrusting the truck driver to operate a motor vehicle while on the roadway, for negligently supervising the truck driver, or for negligently hiring or retaining the truck driver—especially if the truck driver is a repeat offender or has a bad driving record.


Common Injuries in St. Petersburg Truck Accidents


A truck or tractor trailer’s large size and high rate of speed can cause catastrophic injuries. Common injuries sustained in St. Petersburg truck accidents include:

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

All of these damages entitle victims to full compensation under the law. An accident victim who sustained permanent injuries and damages in the truck accident may have to work at a lighter duty job—or change professions altogether because of a sudden inability to meet the physical demands of a particular job. Similarly, the accident victim may not play sports, engage in recreational activities, or spend time with family to the same extent as before the accident. Florida law entitles victims to compensation for all of the inconvenience, permanency, and lost quality of life associated with accident injuries and damages.

Contact a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation


Proving a truck accident case can require the services of expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists who can determine what caused a particular accident. Moreover, some insurance companies will even try to allege that the injured accident victim caused or contributed to the accident, such as by following the truck too closely or driving in a no-zone. When that happens, you need a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side who can advocate for all of your legal rights. The truck accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can advocate at both the negotiating table and in the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg truck accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Birth Injury?



The birth of a child is supposed to bring joy to parents and families alike. But when health care providers behave in a negligent manner while in the delivery room, serious and potentially catastrophic birth defects and irreversible birth injuries can result. Birth injuries may also take place due to inexperienced delivery room health care providers.

If you suspect that your child sustained a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, the law may limit your time to take action. The knowledgeable St. Petersburg birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group will explore all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your child’s birth. Although no amount of money can truly compensate someone for a lifelong birth injury, our knowledgeable team of attorneys can explore all of the legal options you may have open to you. Our attorneys have litigated birth injury and wrongful death cases for many years, and have the necessary medical knowledge and legal expertise to represent you at every stage of your case.

Responsibility for a Child’s Birth Injury


No two birth injury cases are the same, and many medical professionals may have caused a child’s birth injuries. In some cases, a birth injury takes place naturally and involves pregnancy complications or a difficult labor. However, if the birth injury stems directly from a health care provider’s carelessness, negligence, inaction, or inexperience—especially in the delivery room—you may recover monetary compensation. The most likely medical professionals whom you can deem responsible for a child’s birth injury include:

  • Delivery rooms doctors (that is, the obstetricians)
  • Delivery room nurses
  • Other delivery room personnel
  • Hospital staff

All of these individuals could face full or partial responsibility for a child’s birth injuries.


Common Causes of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries


Common causes of St. Petersburg birth injuries take place at the hands of negligent delivery room doctors and nurses, including:

  • Improper delivery room techniques
  • Improper monitoring of a fetus’s heart rate
  • Delayed C-sections
  • Improperly performed C-sections
  • Delayed oxygen to the fetus’s brain
  • Improper delivery room tools and other equipment, such as forceps
  • Improper administration of delivery room drugs to the mother
  • Improper or inadequate monitoring of delivery room patients
  • Failing to abide by proper delivery room rules and procedures


Types of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries


When delivery room doctors, nurses, and hospital staff do not abide by proper delivery room protocols, serious child birth injuries can result. These birth injuries may include injuries to the baby’s skull, cerebral palsy, hypoxia (resulting from a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain), irreversible brain damage, or wrongful death.

Making a Timely Claim


If you suspect that your child sustained a serious birth injury at the hands of a negligent obstetrician or other health care provider, the law leaves you with a limited window of time during which you can file a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice against the negligent health care provider. You must ordinarily file a medical malpractice claim within two years of the date on which you should reasonably have discovered the birth injury. Moreover, Florida’s statute of repose prohibits filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit more than four years from the date on which the child sustained the birth injury.

Finally, children born after July 1, 1996, may not file birth injury claims or lawsuits until after they turn eighteen. This extended statute of limitations deadline may not apply in cases where the child’s parents or legal guardians knew or should have known that the birth injury was likely caused by a negligent health care provider’s medical malpractice.

The knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group can meet all filing deadlines in timely manners, retain and designate the proper experts, and fully satisfy all statutes of limitation.


Filing a Lawsuit and Litigating a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Case


Florida birth injuries fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice or obstetrical malpractice. In a medical malpractice case, the injured person (or the injured person’s representative) has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the healthcare provider, as well as the extent of the injuries and damages sustained.

In Florida birth injury cases, health care providers are generally held to the standard of care of a reasonable physician/obstetrician who acts under the same or similar circumstances. A delivery room doctor who breaches—or violates—this high standard of care by failing to act in a reasonable manner may face full or partial responsibility for the child’s birth injuries and other damages. Injured plaintiffs (or their representatives) must also show that the negligent health care provider’s breach of the applicable standard of care directly resulted in injuries and damages. In other words, those damages would not have taken place but for the health care provider’s negligence.

In a birth injury case, damages may include cognitive impairments, such as developmental disabilities, growth deficiencies, learning disabilities, and other potentially lifelong problems.

In a St. Petersburg birth injury case, the injured child may recover compensation for related medical bills and treatments—including monetary compensation for a lifetime of pain, suffering, inconvenience, and future care.


Call a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case


If you suspect that your child sustained serious birth injuries as a result of a delivery room doctor or other health care provider’s negligence, Florida law may entitle your child to monetary compensation. The St. Petersburg, Florida, personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are prepared to negotiate or litigate your case through the Florida court system, if necessary. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a St. Petersburg birth injury lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.

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

Monday, January 29, 2018

If I Am Hit by an Uber Driver, Whom Can I Sue?





In recent years, ride sharing applications like Lyft and Uber have become widely popular and a huge number of Floridians use them. These convenient apps make it easy for users to hail a ride exactly when and where they need it. They even hold the potential to reduce drunk driving and reduce traffic pollution by increasing the number of carpoolers. But certain legal complications come along with every new technology, and Uber is no exception. If an Uber hit you or a loved one, an experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorney can help you identify all responsible parties and potential sources of compensation. Injury victims across southern Florida have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect their legal rights over the past 46 years.

Who Is Liable for an Uber Accident?


An accident involving an Uber vehicle does not change the rules of liability, but it can complicate them. As with any auto accident, the insurance carriers for the involved drivers will conduct investigations to determine fault for the accident. A negligent Uber driver has a legal obligation to compensate victims for injuries caused by the accident, and the driver’s insurance carrier has a contractual obligation to pay for these losses. In such a case, the rideshare company itself may also face liability for the accident, especially when the company fails to properly screen drivers with dangerous driving histories or criminal convictions. Plaintiffs can also establish liability if a rideshare company fails to properly train its drivers, or enforce important safety policies.

Whether a ride share service may face liability for an accident caused by one of its drivers depends on the facts of a particular car accident—so injury victims need the advice of an experienced auto accident attorney who can advocate for their legal interests even when the presence of an Uber vehicle complicates the process.

Car accident victims find many reasons why rideshare vehicle involvement in their accidents can make winning full and fair compensation for their injuries more difficult. Like any new area of the law, lawyers may not easily predict how a court will rule on issues it has not faced before. Clear statutes do not yet define the extent of liability for rideshare companies. Many rideshare companies classify their drivers as independent contractors, not employees, may have an effect on liability, but even that is uncertain. Two different judges could reach two different answers in two similar cases. Liability waivers can also complicate issues of liability. Rideshare users agree to certain terms and conditions, but this does not excuse all gross negligence and criminal conduct of rideshare drivers. Furthermore, rideshare companies cannot always enforce terms and conditions in later legal actions. This, too, may result in different outcomes in different cases.

When an Uber (or Lyft, or any other rideshare) vehicle is involved in an accident, however, more involved parties might face liability for damages. This creates some wiggle room for other drivers’ insurance companies to argue that they should not cover all of a victim’s losses. Uber still requires that claims go through its drivers’ personal auto insurance policies first. This can leave victims unable to easily obtain compensation for their injuries.


What if I Am Hit by a Self-Driving Uber?


Self-driving vehicles are also becoming more prevalent on Florida roads. Delivery services, trucking companies, and rideshare services are all attempting to improve safety with automated driving technologies. Some states have allowed testing of self-driving Ubers on a restricted basis.

When a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident, this, too, is a scenario that complicates—but does not change—the rules of liability. Clear statutes do not yet impose liability for accidents involving automated vehicles or driving features. But certain established doctrines of liability can apply to these situations. For example, vehicle manufacturers can face liability for negligently designed or manufactured features or vehicles. A self-driving vehicle or automated driving feature that malfunctions, or operates unsafely in a particular traffic situation, could constitute negligent design. The manufacturer of the automated feature would, therefore, face liability for any injuries caused by an accident resulting from the malfunction.

Similarly, an unsafe technology can impose liability on any company or individual responsible for ultimately putting it on the road. Thus, an unsafe automated driving function could result in liability for the manufacturer, the distributer, the advertiser, the broker, the dealership, or even the rideshare service that purchased the vehicle and put it into service. The potential for so many defendants can complicate the determination of liability for an accident. It can also, however, allow an injury victim to access different sources of compensation.

The uncertainty of liability for self-driving car accidents also poses additional risks for injury victims who choose to take their claims to trial. In a traditional car accident, an attorney can advise the victim how juries have ruled on similar cases in the past. With self-driving car accidents, the technology is new, and cases resulting from them present juries with issues that they have not been seen before. This makes the outcome of trials far less certain for victims of self-driving auto accidents than traditional auto accidents.


The Right Legal Representation for Your Uber Accident Claim


Uber may offer a new kind of service, but experienced personal injury attorneys will find the legal issues presented by auto accident claims familiar to them. The Dolman Law Group has more than 46 years of experience protecting the rights of injury victims in and around the St. Petersburg. Injury victims across southern Florida trust our professional staff, comprehensive legal experience, and superior customer service. Call (727) 222-6922 or write to us through our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with a car accident attorney today.

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

My Child Was Injured On The Bus; Do They Get Any PIP?


The answer lies in what type of bus your child was riding in. A city bus (HART etc.), a school bus (Cheese wagon) or a private bus (Greyhound etc.) But first we must answer the question: What is "Personal Injury Protection" (PIP) insurance?
 
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles defines it as: 

“Also called Florida No Fault Insurance, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance covers you - regardless of fault (i.e. whether or not you cause the crash) - up to the limits of your policy. Your PIP will also cover your child, members of your household, certain passengers who lack PIP Insurance as long as they do not own a vehicle. People riding in your vehicle who carry PIP will receive coverage under their own PIP for their injuries, and certain licensed drivers who drive your vehicle with your permission. PIP also covers your child if he or she suffers an injury while riding on a school bus. PIP coverage protects you while in someone else's vehicle, as a pedestrian, or bicyclist if you suffer an injury in a crash involving a motor vehicle. The Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, requires all owner/registrants of a motor vehicle with four wheels or more to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) if you own a motor vehicle in Florida. Florida law requires you to maintain PIP/PDL insurance continuously throughout the licensing and registration period.”

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is controlled by Florida Statute 627.736. (The Florida No Fault Law).

SCENARIO #1--CITY BUS:

The simple answer is no. A government bus is not considered a “motor vehicle” under Florida’s motor vehicle no-fault law. Specifically, “the term ‘motor vehicle’ does not include… any motor vehicle which is used in mass transit…and designed to transport more than five passengers exclusive of the operator of the motor vehicle and which is owned by a municipality, a transit authority, or a political subdivision of the state.”  Florida Statute 627.732(3).

Most people have no idea that, in Florida, buses, taxis, and other similar vehicles that carry people for a fee are classified as “common carriers”. Under Florida law, common carriers do not qualify as “motor vehicles” for automobile insurance purposes.  The result being PIP benefits are not available for accidents related to those kinds of vehicles. 

Meaning, if your child was injured in a city bus or taxi accident, your child will need to rely upon health insurance, or will need to be prepared to pay cash for their medical expenses.

A silver lining however, is common carriers owe their passengers the highest degree of care for their safety.  Meaning bus and cab drivers owe a higher degree of care than simple “reasonable” care.  Stated more simply, things that might get a friend to being considered negligent if you were injured in their vehicle, might still expose a bus or cab driver, and by association, his or her employer, to liability for any damages caused to an injured passenger.

SCENARIO #2--PRIVATE BUS COMPANY:

The simple answer is yes.
For purposes of Florida PIP, “motor vehicle” includes:
  • Cars, SUVs and Jeeps
  • Campers and Motor Homes
  • Truck-Tractors
  • Private Buses and Private school buses
  • Taxicabs, Limousines
  • Emergency Vehicles (fire, police, ambulance)
  • Trailers (except mobile homes)
  • Semi-Trailers
  • Public School Buses
However, remember that PIP coverage follows the person and not the vehicle. Meaning if you as the parent, who lives with the child has PIP coverage, you would have the doctor’s bill under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This is because your own insurance covers all resident relatives who do not own a vehicle in which PIP was required. Therefore, your minor child would be covered under your own coverage.
However, what if you don’t have any car insurance yourself? Is your child out of luck? No, as long as you and/or no other person who is a relative to the child in the household does not own a vehicle that requires PIP coverage. If, for instance the child’s grandmother lives in the home and also has car insurance, your child’s coverage would come from grandma’s PIP insurance. When no person in the household owns a car in which PIP is required (scooters and motorcycles do not require PIP) then the child would claim the PIP insurance of the private bus.
SCENARIO #3—PUBLIC SCHOOL BUS:

Just as stated above, the answer is yes. Remember for purposes of Florida PIP, “motor vehicle” includes:
  • Cars, SUVs and Jeeps
  • Campers and Motor Homes
  • Truck-Tractors
  • Private Buses and Private school buses
  • Taxicabs, Limousines
  • Emergency Vehicles (fire, police, ambulance)
  • Trailers (except mobile homes)
  • Semi-Trailers
  • Public School Buses
Therefore the same with a private bus, if you have PIP insurance on your vehicle, your child gets your PIP coverage. If you and every relative who resides with you doesn’t own a vehicle that requires PIP, then your child would get the coverage under the county bus.

Call a St. Petersburg Vehicle Crash Attorney
If you or your child were involved in an auto collision while riding a bus, it is necessary to speak to a St. Petersburg auto accident attorney as soon as possible regardless of the extent of your injuries.  The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are experienced St. Petersburg bus collision lawyers who are prepared to review your case today and to assist you with that process to make certain that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.  Please call our office at (727) 222-6922.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 222-6922

Florida Supreme Court Rules Geico to Pay for Attorneys' Fees

Thanks to a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court, a 15 minute call on car insurance may not cost you thousands

Florida Supreme Court rules against GEICO in GEICO v. Macedo 42 FLW 731(Fla. July 13 2017)
Alysia Macedo brought a personal injury claim against Zackery Lombardo arising from a car wreck between the two.  GEICO provided Mr. Lombardo with $100,000 in liability coverage for the loss.  Like most automobile insurance policies, GEICO had sole authority to settle claims or lawsuits it chose.  This sole discretion included Ms. Macedo’s personal injury claim against Mr. Lombardo.  Even though GEICO could have settled the claim for $50,000, GEICO chose not to settle and instead go to trial.  The jury returned a verdict for more than $200,000 against Mr. Lombardo.

Since the $50,000 offer was made in the form of a Proposal For Settlement (see Florida Statute 768.79), Ms. Macedo was entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs against the Defendant Mr. Lombardo.  In a post-trial decision, the trial court ruled GEICO should pay for those extra costs and expenses awarded against its insured.  GEICO objected and took the matter up on appeal.  While GEICO did not object to fees and costs being awarded directly against its insured, it did object to any ruling making GEICO responsible for those fees and costs. 

GEICO asserted its policy did not cover “the costs and attorney’s fees awarded against [its insured] under the [Proposal for Settlement] statute because they were not ‘incurred by an insured at [GEICO’s] request.’” GEICO v. Macedo 42 FLW 731 (Fla July 13 2017).  The Florida Supreme Court disagreed pointing out the “expenses awarded against the insured were incurred “as a result of the insurance company’s choice not to settle. 

GEICO had control over settling the case.  It could have authorized a settlement and in essence controlled the litigation.  “It follows that any costs or fee incurred as a result of GEICO exercising its authority and control is something that it intended to pay.” The Supreme Court concluded the applicable insurance provisions at issue were ambiguous, and the GEICO policy should therefore be construed to provide coverage for the costs and attorneys’ fees awarded against Mr. Lombardo.  

In the end, while GEICO insured Zackery Lombardo may have initially saved 15% on his car insurance through GEICO, he was left personally exposed to thousands upon thousands of dollars in litigation expenses from the lawsuit against him GEICO chose not to settle.  Good thing the Florida Supreme Court spent more than 15 minutes on this car insurance issue and properly ruled those litigation expenses should have been covered under the GEICO auto policy.

Dave Neiser, Esq  

Another Recent Lawsuit, this time filed by Geico in Federal Court alleging violati ons of RICO, patient brokering and kickbacks against 1-800-411-Pain, Landau & Associates and Kanner & Pintuluga

Friday, January 26, 2018

What Kinds of Accidents Can Result in Serious Burn Injuries?





A wide variety of accidents can cause burns. Household accidents, car accidents, and workplace accidents can all result in life-changing burns. Burn victims, however, have legal rights under Florida law. Contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible after a burn injury to best protect your legal rights. For decades, burn victims in the St. Petersburg area have trusted our experienced personal injury attorneys to provide good legal advice during difficult times.


Household Accidents


One of the most common ways to sustain a serious burn is in a household accident. Heating ducts, furnaces, portable heating units, fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, stoves, ovens, toaster ovens, and small appliances such as irons or hair styling tools can all cause burn injuries. Household accidents can also cause chemical burns. Improperly stored chemicals carry the risk of both starting fires and causing chemical burns.

But who is legally responsible for household accidents that result in burn injuries? Homeowners and renters can face legal responsibility (“liability”) for injuries that guests sustain as a result of hazardous conditions on their properties. In some cases, a homeowner’s negligence starts a house fire before spreading to neighboring houses. This can make the negligent homeowner liable for injuries that the resulting house fires cause. In your own home, a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may cover burn injuries by malfunctioning appliances or other hazards. The compensation available to a burn victim will depend on the exact nature of a household accident. It is therefore important that injury victims consult with an attorney to explore the different forms of compensation available to them.



Car Accidents


Car accidents can cause many different injuries, especially whiplash and other musculoskeletal injuries—but severe, life-threatening burns can also take place as a result of car accidents. Not all car accidents cause fires, but when fires do take place, they tend to place everyone involved in serious danger. The fuel tank of a vehicle can explode and cause a fire to quickly burn out of control.

The person liable for causing a car accident is also liable for all injuries that take place as a result of the car accident—including burns. After a car accident, the insurance carriers for all involved drivers will conduct their own investigations to determine fault for the accident. If an insurance company accepts liability, or multiple insurance companies agree upon a proportional split of liability, they will compensate injury victims for the financial losses sustained as a result of the car accident. This includes for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any complications that resulted. For example: burn injuries commonly cause breathing difficulties from inhaling fumes and other toxic substances in a fire. If burn injuries sustained in a car accident exacerbate a burn victim’s asthma, the liable driver is also obligated to compensate the victim for worsening this pre-existing condition.



Workplace Accidents


Certain occupations and work sites carry a high risk of burn injuries. Welders, glass blowers, and iron workers deal with fire and combustable materials on a regular basis. Firefighters make a career of working with fire and accepting the risks inherent to that occupation. An employee who is burned on the job has the same legal rights as other injured workers.

Workers who suffer injuries within the scope of their employment will generally have access to workers’ compensation coverage. Most employers have a legal obligation to cover their employees with workers‘ compensation policies. In turn, workers’ compensation protects employees in the event that they sustain job-related injuries. Workers’ compensation coverage is not the only source of compensation available to victims of workplace injuries. Workers who suffer permanent injuries may apply for Social Security disability income or state disability benefits. And a third party who causes a workplace accident still has an obligation to compensate the victim, regardless of whether the victim was on the job at the time of the accident. For example: a negligent driver causes a car accident that results in burn injuries to a delivery driver. The delivery driver may have access to worker’s compensation, but the negligent driver still has a legal obligation to compensate the delivery driver for burn injuries and financial losses.

In addition to fires, certain occupations face heightened risks of other types of burns. Chemical manufacturing plants, chemistry labs, or cleaning supplies may expose workers to chemical burns. Electricians and other electrical workers face heightened risks of electrical burns. And a wide variety of industries subject outdoor workers to sun exposure burns. All of these burns can cause injuries of varying severity to a worker, and employers have legal obligations to take reasonable preventative measures to protect workers from these burn injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets specific guidelines for certain workplace hazards, such as chemicals. Failure to meet OSHA requirements can result in a jury finding that an employer negligently failed to provide workers with a safe working environment. Employers may also face obligations to provide initial, ongoing, or refresher training about specific burn risks.


Experienced Burn Injury Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Personal Injury Claim


Burn injury victims have legal rights under Florida law. They are legally entitled to compensation for their injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience protecting the rights of brain injury victims in the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 or write to us using our online contact form to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive burn injury attorney today. Our friendly, professional staff offers the personalized service you need during this difficult time.


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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Nursing Home Abuse Is Not Always Physical



Nursing home residents make up among the most vulnerable populations in our society. Physical—and in some cases, mental—weaknesses can leave residents vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Nursing home neglect is not always physical, either. Learn more about the various forms of nursing home abuse, and how an experienced New Port Richey nursing home abuse attorney can help protect victims’ legal rights. For more than 46 years, St. Petersburg residents have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect the legal rights of their loved ones.



The Many Different Types of Nursing Home Abuse


The physical and mental dependency of many nursing home residents creates a power imbalance in which nursing home staff can exert financial, emotional, or sexual control over them.

Financial abuse can come in many different forms. In some cases, a caregiver simply steals cash or goods from the elderly victim undetected. In more complex situations, a caregiver may extort money from a nursing home resident under one of many pretexts. Some claim that the funds are necessary for residents’ medical or personal care expenses. Others may create an investment scheme, or create some “worthy cause” that convinces a senior to donate.

Financial abuse can take so many different forms that residents and their families may not always recognize it. Family members and loved ones should report any unexplained financial transactions or missing goods. They should also beware of anyone who appears to exert undue influence over nursing home residents. No single caregiver should become overly involved in a nursing home resident’s financial affairs. If the resident speaks of advice from only one source, or what that one person says the resident can or cannot do something, this may signal that the person exerts undue influence over important financial decisions.

In addition to financial abuse, emotional control over a nursing home resident can also result in emotional or sexual abuse. Emotional abuse can take place in many different ways. It may involve belittling or insulting a resident. It can also consist of a more complex pattern of manipulation. This can result in the resident feeling dependent upon the perpetrator and lead to unwise financial, emotional, or sexual decisions made for the benefit of the abuser. Sexual abuse may take place as the result of complex emotional manipulation that overcomes the resident’s will. It may also constitute a violent act of sexual assault or molestation. In still other cases, sexual assault takes place as the result of neglect by caregivers or a facility, which have a legal obligation to prevent sexual assault by one resident against another.

The Problem of Neglect in addition to the many forms of nursing home abuse, neglect is another serious problem for nursing home residents. Many residents depend on nursing home staff for assistance in every aspect of their daily lives: Nursing home staff administer baths, grooming, dressing, personal care, transportation, feeding, and medical treatment. When staff neglect these duties, severe consequences can result.

An extreme case out of Little Rock, Arkansas, shows just how bad conditions can become for nursing home residents who depend on others for their personal care. NBC4i reported that a resident of Capital Health and Rehabilitation was found to have maggots inside his catheter. He contracted a urinary tract infection, and flies swarmed around in his room. Another man escaped the nursing home twice. The nursing home did not know he was missing on either occasion until he was returned to the facility. His son, who seriously questions his father’s safety in the facility, has since relocated him from Capital Health. The facility self-reported its own deficiencies to the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services and will pay a $21,000 fine because of them.

And here in Florida, a pattern of neglect has resulted in court orders, fines, and arrests imposed against one Williston retirement home. According to The Gainesville Sun, police arrested two administrators at the facility after investigating two separate incidents of neglect in November and December 2017. In the first incident, a resident was found wandering unattended outside the facility, where she hit her head and fell. The administrator who found her simply returned the woman to a lockdown unit.

Hours later, the resident was found unresponsive, and taken to a local hospital. She died of her injuries the next day. The administrator left her position shortly after the death.

In the second incident, police arrested the next administrator on neglect charges. He had failed to get medical attention for a resident who returned to the facility after an outpatient medical procedure. A nurse advised the administrator to contact medical staff if the resident’s condition worsened. Despite two separate alerts from his staff about the resident’s deterioration, the administrator failed to get medical care for the resident.

In addition to these arrests, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration fined the facility $73,750 as a result of 63 separate deficiencies. The facility has also been under court orders since 2012 prohibiting it from accepting new admissions.

Perpetrators can neglect and abuse nursing home residents in many different ways. While family members and loved ones cannot prevent every form of abuse in every facility, they may nonetheless reduce the risk of abuse and neglect with simple vigilance. Consistent checks on nursing home residents and awareness about the events in their lives can identify problematic behaviors before they escalate to nursing home abuse or neglect.


Experienced Legal Representation for Victims of All Forms of Nursing Home Abuse


The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of nursing home abuse victims in the St. Petersburg area. Call (727) 222-6922 or write us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive nursing home abuse attorney today. We will help hold negligent and abusive facilities accountable for their conduct to protect other innocent residents from harm.

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

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/assisted-living-abuse-attorney/

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Truck Accident?




Many different factors can cause truck accidents, and more than one driver may contribute to a crash. Luckily, even a driver who partially causes a truck accident may still recover compensation for injuries sustained in the accident. The experienced truck accident attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience negotiating and litigating complicated truck accident claims. Learn why St. Petersburg residents trust our highly skilled team to protect their legal interests during a critical time.

Comparative Negligence


Florida law provides follows the legal doctrine of comparative negligence. This means that more than one party can face legal responsibility (liability) for causing a truck accident. When a truck accident causes injuries and financial losses (known as legal damages), each person is only responsible for paying that portion of damages that person caused. Section 768.81 of the Florida Statutes provides instruction on the logistics of such an award. A court must enter judgment against each defendant based only on percentage of fault. The statute also provides that plaintiffs who contribute to their own injuries may still recover legal damages from the other negligent parties, but that courts must reduce the award proportionately to the plaintiff’s own amount of fault. This is a very important provision. It means that injury victims who are partially at fault for causing a truck accident can still recover a personal injury award. A court can still require a negligent truck driver, transportation company, or other driver involved in the accident to pay a portion of the legal damages the accident caused.


Who Determines How to Apportion Fault?


When more than one person or company causes a truck accident, each party must receive an exact percentage of liability to apportion the legal damages with an exact calculation. For example, an injury victim incurs $10,000 worth of damages in a truck accident. Both the victim and the truck driver were 50 percent at fault for the accident. The victim can, therefore, recover only $5,000 from the truck driver in a personal injury award.

So who decides what percentage of liability to assign to each party? For better or worse, no specific legal rules dictate how much liability to assign to specific roadway behaviors. Insurance adjusters, attorneys, and possibly juries assign liability on a case-by-case basis depending on the particular facts of each accident.

After an accident, the insurance carriers for all involved drivers will conduct investigations to determine fault. Sometimes these investigations are as simple as taking statements from the drivers. Other times, an insurance company will examine physical evidence on the vehicles and in the roadway. After completing the investigation, the insurance carriers will determine how much liability to assign to each driver (or other negligent parties, such as a negligent truck manufacturer). In some cases, the insurance carriers will even conduct negotiations to arrive at liability apportionments that all parties can agree upon. If the injury victim (with the advice of an attorney) can agree upon the liability apportionment proposed by the defendant (or the defendant’s insurance carrier), those percentages will help calculate the personal injury award.

But what happens when the parties cannot agree upon an apportionment of liability? In this case, the injury victim must file a lawsuit and let a jury determine what portion of liability to assign to each party. This can pose serious risks. A jury also has no rules of law to govern exactly what portions of liability to assign to each party. They may use their own experience on the road to determine what behavior contributes to an auto accident. For this reason, there is no way know that a jury will find in favor of an injury victim. In spite of the risk, victims may need to file a lawsuit when an insurance carrier refuses to accept liability on behalf of a negligent truck driver, or the transportation company that employs such a driver.

Who Else Can Face Liability for Injuries Sustained in a Truck Accident?


Drivers are not the only parties who can face liability for injuries sustained in truck accidents. Many factors can contribute to a truck accident, and this raises the potential for liability to many other parties. Vehicle manufacturers can face liability for car accidents caused by defects in design or manufacturing. Commercial trucks, in particular, contain many different systems and parts, and this can increase the chances of negligent design or manufacturing causing an accident.

Transportation companies can also face liability for injuries caused by truck accidents. Many different theories of liability can apply to a transportation company. Employers are generally responsible for the negligence of their employees (and in some cases, their independent contractors) within the scope of their employment. In this manner, injury victims may hold a trucking company liable for any negligent driving its truck drivers commit. Some trucking companies even promote unsafe driving behavior by encouraging their drivers to take unsafe shortcuts or to drive additional miles or hours. A transportation company can also face liability for injuries caused by defects in the trucks it owns. These and many other actions commonly result in transportation companies becoming defendants in truck accident cases.

Aggressive Legal Representation for Your Your Truck Accident Claim


St. Petersburg truck accident victims have legal rights under Florida law. Even if a driver partially contributed to an accident, Florida law still provides for partial compensation. The experienced truck accident attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience protecting the legal interests of truck accident victims. Call (727) 222-6922 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive truck accident attorney today.

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

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Birth Injury?



The birth of a child is supposed to bring joy to parents and families alike. But when health care providers behave in a negligent manner while in the delivery room, serious and potentially catastrophic birth defects and irreversible birth injuries can result. Birth injuries may also take place due to inexperienced delivery room health care providers.
If you suspect that your child sustained a birth injury as a result of a healthcare provider’s negligence, the law may limit your time to take action. The knowledgeable St. Petersburg birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group will explore all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your child’s birth. Although no amount of money can truly compensate someone for a lifelong birth injury, our knowledgeable team of attorneys can explore all of the legal options you may have open to you. Our attorneys have litigated birth injury and wrongful death cases for many years, and have the necessary medical knowledge and legal expertise to represent you at every stage of your case.

Responsibility for a Child’s Birth Injury

No two birth injury cases are the same, and many medical professionals may have caused a child’s birth injuries. In some cases, a birth injury takes place naturally and involves pregnancy complications or a difficult labor. However, if the birth injury stems directly from a health care provider’s carelessness, negligence, inaction, or inexperience—especially in the delivery room—you may recover monetary compensation. The most likely medical professionals whom you can deem responsible for a child’s birth injury include:
  • Delivery rooms doctors (that is, the obstetricians)
  • Delivery room nurses
  • Other delivery room personnel
  • Hospital staff
All of these individuals could face full or partial responsibility for a child’s birth injuries.

Common Causes of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries

Common causes of St. Petersburg birth injuries take place at the hands of negligent delivery room doctors and nurses, including:
  • Improper delivery room techniques
  • Improper monitoring of a fetus’s heart rate
  • Delayed C-sections
  • Improperly performed C-sections
  • Delayed oxygen to the fetus’s brain
  • Improper delivery room tools and other equipment, such as forceps
  • Improper administration of delivery room drugs to the mother
  • Improper or inadequate monitoring of delivery room patients
  • Failing to abide by proper delivery room rules and procedures

Types of St. Petersburg Birth Injuries

When delivery room doctors, nurses, and hospital staff do not abide by proper delivery room protocols, serious child birth injuries can result. These birth injuries may include injuries to the baby’s skull, cerebral palsy, hypoxia (resulting from a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain), irreversible brain damage, or wrongful death.

Making a Timely Claim

If you suspect that your child sustained a serious birth injury at the hands of a negligent obstetrician or other health care provider, the law leaves you with a limited window of time during which you can file a claim or lawsuit for medical malpractice against the negligent health care provider. You must ordinarily file a medical malpractice claim within two years of the date on which you should reasonably have discovered the birth injury. Moreover, Florida’s statute of repose prohibits filing a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit more than four years from the date on which the child sustained the birth injury.
Finally, children born after July 1, 1996, may not file birth injury claims or lawsuits until after they turn eighteen. This extended statute of limitations deadline may not apply in cases where the child’s parents or legal guardians knew or should have known that the birth injury was likely caused by a negligent health care provider’s medical malpractice.
The knowledgeable birth injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group can meet all filing deadlines in timely manners, retain and designate the proper experts, and fully satisfy all statutes of limitation.

Filing a Lawsuit and Litigating a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Case

Florida birth injuries fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice or obstetrical malpractice. In a medical malpractice case, the injured person (or the injured person’s representative) has the burden of proving negligence on the part of the healthcare provider, as well as the extent of the injuries and damages sustained.
In Florida birth injury cases, health care providers are generally held to the standard of care of a reasonable physician/obstetrician who acts under the same or similar circumstances. A delivery room doctor who breaches—or violates—this high standard of care by failing to act in a reasonable manner may face full or partial responsibility for the child’s birth injuries and other damages. Injured plaintiffs (or their representatives) must also show that the negligent health care provider’s breach of the applicable standard of care directly resulted in injuries and damages. In other words, those damages would not have taken place but for the health care provider’s negligence.
In a birth injury case, damages may include cognitive impairments, such as developmental disabilities, growth deficiencies, learning disabilities, and other potentially lifelong problems.
In a St. Petersburg birth injury case, the injured child may recover compensation for related medical bills and treatments—including monetary compensation for a lifetime of pain, suffering, inconvenience, and future care.

Call a St. Petersburg Birth Injury Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

If you suspect that your child sustained serious birth injuries as a result of a delivery room doctor or other health care provider’s negligence, Florida law may entitle your child to monetary compensation. The St. Petersburg, Florida, personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group are prepared to negotiate or litigate your case through the Florida court system, if necessary. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a St. Petersburg birth injury lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.

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