Monday, February 25, 2019

2018 Deadliest Year for St. Petersburg Car Accidents

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40 St. Petersburg Car Accident Fatalities in 2018

St. Petersburg, Florida is home to an estimated 263,255 people that drive back and forth from work, school, and family every day. The roads of St. Petersburg have experienced some of the worst accidents it has ever seen in a long time. In the year of 2018, St. Petersburg experienced 40 deaths due to car accidents making it the worst year on record for car accident fatalities for the city.
Florida is no stranger to a high rate of fatality in car accidents. The frequency of collisions in the Tampa Bay area, in general, is quite high in comparison to many other United States cities. St. Pete sees more than its fair share of accidents that injure drivers but fatalities are another matter altogether. The vast majority of car accidents result in accident injuries without any deaths. It takes certain circumstances for a car accident to be severe enough to cause the death of someone involved. St. Petersburg’s particular frequency of car accident fatality could be tied to a few specific factors.

Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Injury and Wrongful Death

Those that have been injured in car accidents or those whose loved ones were lost in a car accident can seek compensation for severe injuries and damages through a car accident injury claim or wrongful death claim. The party that was at fault for your accident could be liable. A liable party could include a company that owned the business vehicle that hit you, a garage that was negligent in their maintenance of your vehicle, or a driver under the influence. Regardless of who is involved in your injury claim, they will likely mount a strong defense and it will be up to the plaintiff to prove that their negligence caused the accident and injuries.
In order to give your car accident claim the best chance possible at successfully recovering you compensation, you should consider hiring an attorney. A lawyer with experience in successfully getting appropriately can prove invaluable in making sure you get the money you need to cover lost wages, medical bills, and much more. Dolman Law has been handling cases like these for years. Matt Dolman and the Dolman Law team are dedicated to providing you the individual attention afforded by smaller firms while delivering big firm results.

St. Petersburg Fatal Car Accident Factors

St. Petersburg’s record level of 40 car accident fatalities in 2018 is an indicator that the city has a problem when it comes to certain factors that increase the likelihood of a car accident resulting in death. St. Petersburg police regularly arrest those that endanger others on the road with reckless driving behavior. In their endeavors to keep roads safe, St. Petersburg police have determined some of the major issues that contribute to this car accident fatality problem as distracted driving, jaywalking, and motorcyclists not wearing helmets as some of the more notable examples of reckless behavior.

Distracted Driving Causes Fatal Car Accidents

Distracted driving can be defined as driving while having your attention occupied by attempting to perform another task. It goes without saying that having your attention shift from the road can result in an accident. More often than not this distracted driving is the result of smartphone use. Texting, social media, and even just internet browsing on a smartphone has been a serious problem not just in Florida but across the country. While smartphone use accounts for the largest portion of distracted driving accidents, other forms of distracted driving can put people at just as much risk.

Pedestrian Fatalities Because of Car Collisions

Pedestrian accidents are fairly common in St. Petersburg. Much of the city was built with public transit and pedestrian travel as an afterthought with emphasis placed on making large multi-lane roads for traffic to travel along at high speeds. This often presents a problem for the portion of St. Pete’s population that elects to travel by foot. By neglecting to use crosswalks, a pedestrian puts themselves at immense risk of becoming a pedestrian fatality statistics. Car collisions with pedestrians cause immense amounts of damage and fatalities are common because of this unfortunate fact.

Motorcycle Accident Fatalities and Helmet Use

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment for motorcyclists is the helmet. It is legal in Florida to forego the use of a motorcycle helmet although it is strongly recommended that you don’t. Statistics regularly show that motorcycle helmets reduce the chance of death or traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident significantly. Motorcyclists still choose to not wear motorcycle helmets despite the overwhelming evidence that they can and will save your life in most motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle accidents already have a remarkably high mortality rate in comparison to car accidents. Despite the small number of motorcyclists in comparison to car drivers, there is a higher ratio of fatalities in motorcycle accidents than with car accidents.

Contact an Experienced St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents can cause a great deal of damage not only to people’s cars and bodies but to families as well. St. Petersburg has seen many car accidents that have derailed the lives of victims and their families that have nowhere to turn when the medical bills start to pile up. Car accident injury claims are often the only way these accident victims can recover compensation to help deal with the damages they have suffered. This process is anything but easy, especially when dealing with serious injuries. The best decision someone seriously injured in an accident can make is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to help them through the legal process and let them know the right time to escalate your insurance claim to a personal injury lawsuit.
If you have sustained injuries in a car accident in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County, contact our seasoned car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group at (727) 222-6922 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and learn about how we may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rain and Other Weather Conditions Dangerous for Motorcycles

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Bad Weather Conditions Affect Motorcycle Accident Chance

Contending with unfavorable conditions is something that drivers of all kinds of vehicles have to deal with. Many accidents every year occur due to bad weather conditions that generally increase accident chance significantly. Drivers have to stay on their toes to avoid becoming another casualty of an accident with rain, fog, hail, etc. as a primary contributing factor. Of all the vehicles that have to worry about adverse weather conditions, motorcycles experience some of the most challenges navigating through bad weather.
Florida is a state with its fair share of extreme weather. We may not have to suffer through the cold snow and ice like up north but we see the opposite in terms of hot weather conditions that create an abundance of precipitation. Motorcyclists are at especially high risk for accidents for accidents in general with statistics indicating that motorcycle accident fatalities occur 28 times more often than regular cars based on per mile traveled. It goes without saying that bad weather doesn’t do anything to improve these chances for motorcyclists on the road.

Dangers of Dangerous Weather for Motorcyclists

The dangers of bad weather for motorcyclists may seem obvious but there are a few aspects that many are not aware of. The most common form of bad weather in Florida is the rainstorm that can approach rapidly and drop a significant amount of water on drivers. Regardless of the vehicle, rain can mean slippery roads and decreased visibility. While this makes things difficult for cars, motorcyclists who already must take greater care in maneuvering and making themselves visible have to deal with a whole new host of problems.
Motorcyclists have to worry even more about braking and turning in the rain especially when there is enough water to cause them to hydroplane. The weight of a motorcycle is significantly less than that of a car so moving or standing water has a much greater effect on them. The rain also creates some serious issues with visibility for motorcyclists. Motorcycles lack the windshields and wipers that cars have so motorcyclists have to deal with sheets of rain rolling down their helmet or goggles in addition to the sheer amount of water in the air hiding the silhouettes of cars. This goes for the other side as well. Motorcycles are already hard to see and rain only worsens this. The lights on a motorcycle are difficult to see and even the sound is muffled by the rain.

Tips for Motorcyclists to Biking in Bad Weather

Motorcyclists are responsible for making sure that they take the necessary precautions before riding when it comes to bad weather preparation. There are many beginners that don’t anticipate just how bad things can get when they fail to take these preparations and they end up involved in motorcycle accidents that inflict severe injury or even kill them. Even experienced riders can be caught off guard by the danger of bad weather for motorcyclists so all getting on a bike should have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the simple steps one can take to avoid this scenario.

Avoiding Riding a motorcycle in Rain and other bad Weather

The best way to avoid an accident caused by less than favorable weather conditions like rain or fog is to simply avoid riding in it altogether. Many motorcyclists overestimate their abilities and underestimate the intensity of the weather and its effect on their riding. It is always best to play it safe if that is an option. There is no shame in pulling over to wait out the storm since Florida storms swoop in within a matter of seconds and disappear just as soon.

Wearing the Right Gear can Reduce The Effects of Bad Weather

It is imperative that motorcyclists have the right safety gear if they elect to ride in adverse weather conditions. The correct motorcycle gear can mean life or death in certain scenarios. Some people may see staying dry as not as big of a priority but having a rain suit handy can greatly reduce the effect of rain on your driving skills. In addition, protective eyewear is a must. For those who go the advisory of wearing a helmet, safety glasses at least should be worn to prevent rain from blinding you. For those that choose to be safe and wear helmets, antifogging as a feature for the face shield is essential. Your helmet can become a danger if the moisture buildup from fog and rain hinders your sight.

Motorcycle Maneuvering Requires More Time and Space

Wet roads, mist, and fog require a motorcyclist to take their time when riding. Braking and maneuvering can end up in losing control of the bike when enacted too aggressively. The decreased traction makes braking and turning take just a little bit longer in order to do safely. Decreasing the speed in the rain is a good idea since you may not be able to see as well through the rain and you want to give yourself as much reaction time as possible to take evasive action if needed.

Driving a Motorcycle on Wet Roads

One trick many motorcyclists use is riding on a dry line. A dry line is the tire track of the car in front of you that’s tire has picked up some of the water that has wet the road. This only works in more mild rain scenarios but can make a difference. Keeping an eye out for shiny surfaces is key since water can fill holes and depressions in the road that can cause an accident. It is strongly advised not to try and ride through standing or moving water since hydroplaning is so easy to fall victim to in these conditions.

Seek an Experienced Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your claim. Our skilled lawyers will sit down with you to hear the details of your case and outline the legal options available to you. Consider Dolman Law Group as your legal representation so we can fight to secure you the settlement that you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg motorcycle accident lawyer, please call us or contact us online or call us at (727) 222-6922 today.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What Does the Law Consider a Hit and Run?

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) estimates that almost 5,000 hit and run motor vehicle crashes, 86 hit and run pedestrian crashes, and more than 100 hit and run bicycle crashes occurred in Pinellas County in 2017. Across Florida, hit and runs account for 25 percent of all motor vehicle crashes each year. A hit and run is a serious offense that leaves victims without anyone to hold accountable for their damages. Perpetrators who are caught might be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the specific circumstances. In fact, Florida takes hit and run accidents so seriously that it created a campaign dedicated to educating people about the dangers and penalties of hit and run accidents.

In this post, we first examine Florida’s legal definition of hit and run as well as the statutory penalties. Next, we discuss options for proving that another car struck you or your vehicle, defense strategies for hit and runs, and how to recover damages after a hit and run. Hopefully, this post will provide you with a starting point for how to deal with the aftermath of a hit and run accident.

Florida’s Legal Definition of a Hit and Run

A hit and run, more formally referred to as leaving the scene of an accident, violates two separate provisions of Florida law:

First, Florida law imposes a duty on drivers to offer help and provide information following a car accident. The law requires that any driver involved in a crash that results in vehicle damage, property damage, injury, or death must give his or her name, address, and vehicle registration number to other people involved in the accident or to police officers that request this information. Drivers also have the legal obligation to offer assistance, such as taking others to the hospital for treatment, or making those arrangements, typically accomplished by calling 911 to request an ambulance. If law enforcement does not come to the scene of the accident and others involved are incapacitated to the point that they cannot receive information, drivers must report the accident to the police immediately.

Second, Florida law also imposes particular responsibility on drivers involved in crashes that result in injury or death. This section of the law was enacted in July of 2014 and is often referred to as the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act. Drivers must immediately stop at the scene of an accident and should remain there until they have offered aid and given their information.

Penalties for a Hit and Run in Florida

Florida law allows for relatively harsh penalties for those who leave the scene of an accident, but this is a relatively recent legal development. In February 2012, a motorist who had been drinking and driving struck 31-year-old Aaron Cohen while he was on his bicycle, and the driver fled the scene of the accident. The court sentenced the driver to two years in prison, less than what he would have served on a DUI manslaughter charge. The Aaron Cohen Protection Act clearly outlines the following penalties, which vary based on the resulting damage, for those who leave the scene of an accident:

Property damage only.
A driver who leaves the scene of an accident at which he or she caused property damage may be charged with a second degree misdemeanor and sentenced to up to 60 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Bodily injury. When a hit and run driver flees a crash scene after other drivers, pedestrians, or bicyclists have sustained an injury, a prosecutor may charge the driver with a second or third degree felony. Additionally, the state will revoke the perpetrator’s driver’s license for at least three years. Sentencing includes up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Fatality. Motorists that flee the scene of an accident when one or more people involved have died will be charged with a first degree felony and lose their license for a minimum of three years. A hit and run with a fatality carries a mandatory four-year prison sentence and $10,000 fine. Florida judges have the authority to increase the prison sentence to up to 30 years depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Proving a Hit and Run

Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so after an accident, drivers file a claim under their own mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) policy. When a hit and run occurs, insurance companies might try to prove that you caused the damage instead of another driver, especially if police can’t track down the hit and run driver. You need to gather as much information as you can to share with your lawyer and prove that another car caused damage. Here are some tips to help prove that you were involved in a hit and run accident:

Obtain a copy of the police report. Law enforcement, ambulance services, and sometimes a fire truck will show up to the scene of a serious accident. If you didn’t call 911, it’s likely that a passerby or another person involved called for help. Law enforcement—whether state patrol, local police, or both—will file an official accident report. The written observations of police officers include the results of their initial investigation, witness statements, and more. If you don’t have eyewitnesses to your hit and run accident, police reports often contain other clues to prove your case. For example, the presence of skid marks and parts or paint from another vehicle that an officer notes are valuable evidence of a hit and run.

Take photos of vehicle damage.
Even though the police will investigate the accident and you know the importance of immediately filing a report, you need to gather some evidence on your own if you are physically able. In addition to getting names and contact information of potential witnesses, you should use your cell phone to take photos of the scene of the accident and any vehicle damage. This also includes photos of any parts or pieces that fell off your vehicle. When investigators and insurance adjusters evaluate your vehicle and look at the pictures you provided, they will be able to see that another driver caused the damage. They might also be able to determine liability, which will be valuable if law enforcement tracks down the hit and run driver.

Check with nearby business for videos. Depending on the location of your hit and run accident, local businesses that have exterior cameras might have recorded the accident. Typically, the police or your attorney will go after these items, but it’s in your best interest to follow up. Not only will the video feed aid in catching the hit and run driver, but it can also serve as undeniable proof that damage to your vehicle was caused by another driver.

Seeking Compensation After a Hit and Run

If law enforcement doesn’t find the hit and run driver, victims may recover some damages from their own PIP insurance policy. Under Florida law, PIP insurance only covers 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages due to missing work from an injury. Without the hit and run driver, you have no way of making up the additional expenses and lost wages, or any non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. Conversely, if the police identify the hit and run driver, Florida law permits you to seek compensation for your injuries in civil court. If the court rules in your favor, you might recover the following damages not covered by your PIP policy:

  • Medical costs, including ambulance rides, emergency room treatments, radiology, surgeries, hospitalizations, prescriptions, and more
  • Rehabilitation costs, including physical therapy and assistive devices like wheelchairs and canes
  • Future medical costs when the hit and run accident led to a permanent disability or severe injury requiring multiple surgeries and a long time for recovery
  • Lost wages for time away from work
  • Future lost wages when long-term disability prohibits a victim from returning to his or her job
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement

If you’ve lost a loved one to a hit and run accident, you might be able to recover damages through a wrongful death suit. Damages may include funeral and burial expenses and other non-economic damages. Your attorney will advise you on the appropriate damage claims given your individual situation.

Hit and Run Defense Strategies and Comparative Negligence

In a personal injury suit, your attorney must prove negligence on behalf of the defendant for you to recover damages. A suit against a hit and run driver differs in one major way from a car accident where all parties remain at the scene following the accident. If the hit and run driver was convicted in criminal court for leaving the scene of the accident, your lawyer will not have to prove negligence. The court will automatically regard the act as negligent, and your lawyer must only prove that the accident caused your injuries and that your damages are accurate. The defense will use a variety of strategies to avoid or reduce liability, which include:

  • Claiming that another person was driving the vehicle
  • Claiming that the at-fault driver didn’t know that an accident had occurred
  • Claiming that the at-fault driver didn’t realize that he or she hit something or someone

After a court considers both parties arguments and all of the evidence, it will apply Florida’s pure comparative negligence rule to your accident case. This includes assigning a percentage of fault to each party. If the court determines that you were partially responsible for your accident, it will reduce any damages award according to that amount. For example, if a court determines that you suffered $1,000,000 in damages, but also finds that you were 20 percent responsible for your accident, it will reduce the final award to $800,000. This comparative negligence rule motivates the defense to shift the blame to you to avoid some liability. Strategies that the defense might use include:

  • Suggesting that you were driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol
  • Suggesting that you were distracted while driving
  • Suggesting that you were speeding or violated some other traffic regulation that contributed to the accident

Hit and run cases are layered with complexities that require the expertise of a seasoned attorney. In cases where the defense makes counterclaims or tries to dispute liability, a competent lawyer will anticipate these attacks by the defense and remain ready to fight for the best possible outcome given your individual circumstances. Under Florida law, you have four years from the date of your accident to take legal action after sustaining an injury. Hit and run accidents extend this clock, but you need to act as soon as possible to ensure that you’re eligible to receive full compensation for your injuries.

Contact a St. Petersburg Attorney After a Hit and Run Accident

Sometimes dealing with the aftermath of an accident is simple and straightforward. When the at-fault driver leaves the scene of an accident, however, it creates a complex case due to the absence of a liable party or presence of criminal charges alongside a civil suit. Florida’s no fault insurance laws and required PIP coverage add additional complexities to hit and run accident cases. Above, we have discussed some steps that you can take to prove that your car was involved in a hit and run accident, but retaining an experienced personal injury attorney to handle the details of your case, monitor police attempts to locate the hit and run driver, and advise you on the best path given your situation, will maximize the likelihood that you recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries.

A skilled attorney will investigate your accident, obtain medical records and police reports, speak to eyewitnesses, and advocate for you throughout the entire legal process. In hit and run accidents where the defense aggressively disputes liability, accident reconstruction experts can analyze your case to show that the hit and run driver caused damage and injury. An experienced attorney will also handle communication with insurance companies who might try to deny your claim or downplay your injuries. If you have been in a hit and run accident in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County, call the Dolman Law Group at (727) 222-6922, or contact us online, to schedule a free case review and to determine your next steps.

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

Friday, February 1, 2019

Cars Lose When They Collide With Trucks

Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) estimates that more than 40,000 commercial vehicle crashes occurred in 2018, most of which included medium to heavy trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds. When cars collide with trucks, the injuries can be severe and far more likely to result in fatalities. The massive size and weight of heavy trucks, especially tractor trailers, create conditions that make it nearly impossible for motorists in cars to walk away injury-free when involved in a trucking accident.

For example, one of the first large truck crashes in 2019 with fatalities in Florida occurred on January 3 near Gainesville on Interstate 75. A semi and a car collided while traveling northbound. Both vehicles crashed through the guardrail into the southbound lanes, when a second semi-truck and passenger van struck the first semi-truck. Both trucks caught fire and the passenger van rolled over and ejected some of its occupants. The crash resulted in seven fatalities, mostly children in the van who were traveling to Disney World with a church group from Louisiana.

While the cause of the initial crash is still under investigation, it’s highly likely that the accident was preventable—most traffic accidents are. Avoiding these kinds of accidents requires that truck drivers and other motorists pay careful attention to driving, follow all traffic regulations, and avoid dangerous negligent behaviors that take attention away from driving.

Injuries When Trucks and Cars Collide

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that large truck occupants comprised approximately 16 percent of all large truck and bus fatalities in 2016. Large truck accidents occur far more than bus accidents, which suggests that other motorists and passengers account for over 80 percent of large truck and bus fatalities. Cars almost always sustain significant damage when they collide with trucks. When motorists and passengers survive a truck accident, they often face serious or catastrophic injuries.

The types of injuries that an accident victim might suffer in a truck accident are generally the same as those in an auto accident, but much more severe. Truck drivers might have back injuries or whiplash, but those in smaller vehicles often experience the most severe injuries, including:

  • Multiple fractures and crushed bones
  • Deep lacerations from shrapnel and metal, including resulting scarring
  • Head injuries, especially blunt force traumas that might cause traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck injuries, including severe whiplash or a broken neck
  • Back injuries that might include cracked or broken vertebrate
  • Spinal cord injuries that might lead to temporary or permanent paralysis
  • Organ damage and internal bleeding
  • Amputation of limbs
  • Burns from an explosion or fire that may lead to permanent scarring and/or disfigurement

Common Causes of Crashes Between Trucks and Cars

All drivers have a legal responsibility to drive with care. Sometimes, poor maintenance on a truck or car can lead to an accident, or a manufacturing defect might cause a driver to lose control and cause an accident. Other times, careless driving and failure to follow traffic laws may lead to an accident. According to the FMCSA, the following traffic violations are the most common causes of truck accidents:

Distracted driving. Driving while distracted has long been an issue for motorists. Whether driving a truck or car, possible distractions include adjusting the radio, using a GPS, drinking, eating, watching a roadside incident, or any other activity that takes a driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off of the wheel. Many of these distractions are not explicitly illegal, but cell phone use often is. Under both federal and state law, truck drivers can only use a cell phone that has a hands-free feature. It’s also against the law to text and drive in Florida, but it is a secondary offense, which means an officer cannot pull a driver over solely for texting and driving. Regardless of the distraction, when drivers lose focus, it can result in a severe accident.

Driving under the influence. Driving after consuming alcohol or drugs remains a serious problem for truck drivers and auto drivers alike. Long work days and tough working conditions cause truck drivers to regularly driver under the influence. The FMCSA reports that in 2016, 13 percent of truck drivers involved in crashes with fatalities had drugs in their system and about 20 percent had a blood alcohol content over .08; the legal limit for truck drivers is .04. In 2016, almost 2,000 drivers were injured and 461 died in more than 5,000 crashes on Florida roads that involved alcohol. When trucks, cars, and controlled substances mix, the results can be deadly.

Speeding. Driving over the speed limit or too fast for conditions is the most common factor associated with fatal truck accidents. Speeding makes it difficult for vehicles to stop or make adjustments for road hazards. Truck drivers who speed put others at risk due to the size and weight of their trucks. Trucks are already more challenging to drive than cars, and speeding adds more danger, especially in poor weather. If a car strikes a truck while traveling at high speeds, a fatal crash is likely.

Failure to yield. Sometimes, careless car drivers fail to yield and cut truck drivers off, which can lead to an accident. Other times, rushed or distracted truck drivers fail to yield, which might cause a collision. It takes much more time and distance for a truck to stop than a car, so it’s always in the best interest of other motorists to yield to trucks. Trying to beat a truck might result in an accident and even death.

Failure to obey signals. Most drivers don’t intentionally run stop lights or ignore traffic signals, but distractions might cause them to miss a signal or sign. When these types of accidents occur at intersections, cars are especially at risk for an underride accident, which occurs when a car gets stuck under the trailer of a semi-truck. If the truck is traveling relatively fast, it may even drag the car for some distance. Underride accidents are some of the most severe and fatal crashes between cars and trucks; they often result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.

Following too closely. Drivers’ education teachers generally advise students to leave a two-second gap when following another vehicle and to double that amount of time in inclement weather. The FMCSA recommends that trucks leave a four- to five-second gap, depending on the speed that they are traveling. Whether a truck driver follows you too closely or you follow a truck driver too closely, nothing good comes from tailgating, particularly if the front car stops suddenly. The truck driver risks totaling and possibly running over a car in front of them. Other drivers risk sliding under the back of the truck. Both types of crashes can result in severe or fatal injuries.

Liability and Damages in Florida Truck Accidents

When cars and trucks collide, it’s not often an easy case. The defense generally includes the truck driver and the trucking company, at the very least. If multiple vehicles were involved in the accident, teasing out fault is challenging for investigators, insurance companies, and the court. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, which means fault doesn’t come into play until after insurance policy limits are exceeded. Under Florida law, drivers are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which covers the following costs:

  • 80 percent of the cost of medical treatment
  • 60 percent of wages lost because of missed work due to an injury

Immediately after a truck accident, victims must file a claim under their own PIP policy. The severe nature of truck accidents often requires a long absence from work as medical bills rack up, creating financial hardship for many accident victims and their families. It’s important to retain a lawyer as soon as possible to guide you through the claims process and advise you if and when the time is right to escalate your insurance claim to a personal injury suit. Florida law requires that you take legal action for a truck accident within four years from the date of injury; if you lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you have two years to file a wrongful death suit. If you take legal action, you might be able to recover the following damages that haven’t been covered by your PIP insurance:

  • Medical expenses, including ambulance and emergency services, hospital stays, X-rays and other scans, surgery, medication, and more
  • Future medical expenses in the case of severe or catastrophic injuries that lead to permanent disability, or severe injuries that require multiple surgeries and a long recovery time
  • Rehabilitation services, including physical therapy and assistive devices, such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and more
  • Lost wages due to missing work from injuries related to the truck accident
  • Future lost wages when a catastrophic injury or permanent disability prevents a victim from returning to work or forces them to change professions
  • Pain and suffering for injuries
  • Loss of consortium with a spouse
  • Scarring and disfigurement for catastrophic injuries such as serious burns and amputations
  • In the event of a wrongful death suit, surviving family members may recover funeral expenses, burial costs, and other non-economic damages that are specific to your situation.

What Should I Do After a Truck Accident in St. Petersburg?

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a trucking accident, Florida law permits you to seek damages that exceed your insurance limits. To ensure your best chance of success, you should work with a seasoned attorney, who can help you to navigate the legal complexities of a truck accident claim. Until you have the opportunity to consult with an attorney, you should take the following steps to help support your claim:

See a doctor as soon as possible. In the rare event that you walked away from a truck accident and weren’t transported to the nearest emergency department in an ambulance, you still need to get checked out by a doctor. Your health is a top priority, and some symptoms, especially those from head injuries, don’t show up until hours or days after an accident. It’s also important that your injuries are formally documented for insurance claims and for your attorney.

Keep all bills and receipts. You need to document all of the expenses related to your or your loved one’s injuries. This includes keeping all medical bills, recording mileage to and from the hospital, documenting replacement services, such as lawn care or other domestic help, and more. If in doubt about whether something might be reimbursable, err on the side of caution and document it. Your attorney will advise you on specifics.

Don’t talk with insurance companies. After an accident, representatives from insurance companies might want to speak with you, usually for three primary reasons: (1) to determine liability, (2) gather information that could potentially devalue your claim, or (3) offer you a low settlement as a way to avoid paying a higher court awarded amount following trial. It’s in your best interest to refrain from speaking with any insurance company until you consult with a lawyer. Your lawyer can handle communication, negotiate, and make sure that you get compensation for the full cost of your injuries following a truck accident.

Don’t talk about your accident. Insurance companies will also try to talk to loved ones and have investigators search for details that may devalue your claims. Don’t talk about your accident, insurance claim, or case outside of your immediate family and your lawyer. This also means that you shouldn’t post on social media about your accident or injuries. Posting on social media provides an opportunity for investigators to take something out of context and use it against you later on.

Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney in St. Petersburg Today

If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in a truck accident, you deserve compensation for your losses, particularly if another driver’s negligence caused the injury. A severe injury brings the physical pain of long recovery, mental anguish, and financial hardship to victims and their families. Healing and recovery need to be a victim’s top priority, but liable parties also need to be held accountable. Let an experienced truck accident attorney guide you through the insurance claims process, investigate your case, and advocate for you in court. 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 and to learn about how we can help you through this difficult time.

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