Thursday, March 28, 2019

Insurance Limits and Your Right to Seek Additional Compensation

Insurance companies play a crucial and inevitable role in nearly every personal injury case we handle. Insurers negotiate settlements, shoulder defense costs, and pay damages when required. Auto insurance carriers pay the replacement cost of a car totaled in an accident; homeowners’ carriers reimburse property owners for fire damage; commercial insurance companies pay the medical costs of injuries caused by employees of their insured.

In all of these cases, insurance companies only have an obligation to pay claims and damages up to the limits of the policy. Once those limits are exceeded, the liable party, not its insurer, has responsibility for paying any remaining damages due to the victim. This blog will explain how insurance policies and their limits work, as well as discuss the ways in which you may be able to recover additional damages from a liable party beyond the scope of insurance policy limits.

Understanding Insurance Policy Limits in Florida

Regardless of the type of insurance, policies cover property damage and liability. Whether you are purchasing auto insurance, homeowners’ insurance, or commercial insurance for a business, your insurance carrier will ask how much coverage you want. Generally speaking, you pay a higher premium for more coverage.

In some instances, you will be required to purchase a minimum amount of coverage. Florida is a so-called “no-fault” auto insurance state where, to register a car, residents must carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) coverage. This insurance covers personal injury to the driver covered by the insurance, and liability of the driver for property damage he causes.

When you have a car loan or you have leased a car, the institution that financed the transaction typically requires full coverage, including collision insurance, and also typically requires higher liability limits. Similarly, your mortgage company might require specific coverage amounts on your residence that ensures you against liability for injuries visitors may suffer on your property.

The formal name for the amount of insurance coverage that you buy is the policy limit. If you file a claim or an injured person files a claim against your policy, your insurance carrier will only pay damages up to your policy limit. For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and a patron slips in the bathroom, hits her head on the tile floor, and sustains a traumatic brain injury. The patron decides to sue you for $500,000 for medical expenses, lost wages, and more. Your commercial policy limit is $350,000. If the court rules in the plaintiff’s favor and awards $500,000, your insurance company will only pay out $350,000. You are responsible for the remainder of the damages.

Seeking Additional Compensation

After you have exhausted your PIP policy limits or a liable party’s insurance carrier has paid your claim, exhausting their policy limits, you may have a few more options to recover the remainder of the damages the liable party owes you. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on the best course of action for your situation, but your options may include:

Claiming Against Multiple Parties

In some cases, more than one party might share liability for your injury and accompanying damages. This brings multiple insurance policies and carriers into play, giving you the opportunity to recover additional compensation for your injuries. Some types of cases that might have more than one responsible party include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accident cases. When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, more than one might be responsible for the accident and injuries.
  • Commercial vehicle accident cases. If a commercial vehicle driver’s negligence causes an accident, victims may also sue the trucking company or other business who employs the driver.
  • Product liability cases. If a defective product causes an injury, any party in the product’s chain of distribution might be share liability with the manufacturer. This includes distributors, wholesalers, and retailers. When the defective product is a prescription drug, salespeople, doctors, and pharmacists might also share liability.
  • Medical malpractice cases. When a medical professional doesn’t uphold a legal obligation to provide a certain standard of care, the provider might be held liable in a Florida court. Others involved with the event(s) that caused injury, as well as the associated facility or hospital, might also be named as defendants.
  • Premises liability cases. If someone intentionally harms you on another party’s property, both the perpetrator and property owner might be liable. Property owners must maintain and safe environment for visitors and might be held liable for poor security.

Filing a Claim on an Umbrella Policy

An umbrella policy is additional liability coverage over and above a standard policy. Homeowners don’t often have umbrella policies, but large corporations and businesses often have an umbrella policy that pays benefits when the damages from an accident or injury exceed the policy limits of other insurance policies. In any case, it is important to find out exactly what policies liable parties have so that an attorney can guide you on the best course of action.

For example, suppose you sue a grocery store chain for $1,000,000 because you slipped and fell and sustained a traumatic brain injury. The grocery store chain has $750,000 in liability coverage and a $500,000 umbrella policy. If the court finds in your favor and awards $1,000,000 in damages the store’s insurance carrier will exhaust the $750,000 limit of the standard liability policy. The umbrella policy will come into effect and the carrier will pay out $250,000 on that coverage.

Direct Recovery from the Liable Party(s)

In the event that you aren’t able to file additional lawsuits to seek additional compensation, nor are you able to collect damages from a defendant’s umbrella policy, you may have to attempt to directly collect damages from the defendant. Unless the defendant has extensive assets to sell or ample amounts of money in the bank, collecting additional compensation directly from the defendant is not always an easy task. If the defendant has the ability to pay, but refuses, you might have some recourse. In these cases, you can go to the court for enforcement of a judgment. An attorney with experience enforcing judgment liens can help you in this case.

Bad Faith of the Insurance Carrier

Insurance companies notoriously deny claims for dubious reasons as a way to protect their bottom line. Consumers have an expectation that when they pay premiums for a policy, the carrier will provide the coverage when someone is injured. When they fail to do so, it leaves the insured and injured victims facing devastating costs from a serious injury.

In some cases, an insurance company’s delayed processing or denial of a claim is a result of them acting in bad faith. When a consumer buys a policy and signs a contract with an insurance carrier, the carrier breaches the contract when they fail to act in good faith.

Florida law prohibits insurance companies from acting against bad faith; however, carriers will still go the extra mile to avoid paying claims and sometimes those denials are against the law. Below are some examples of an insurance company acting in bad faith that might affect personal injury victims:

  • Purposefully delaying the investigation or processing of a claim
  • Providing an unreasonable interpretation of policy to avoid paying damages
  • Delaying payment for an unreasonable amount of time
  • Unreasonable denial of a claim
  • Refusal to offer explanations for full or partial claim denials
  • Refusal to partake in settlement negotiations

In Florida, you might have a bad faith claim against an auto insurance company because of the state’s no-fault insurance laws, but in other personal injury cases, it is the defendant who might have a claim. Although a defendant must make a bad faith claim against an insurance company and they also hold the burden of proof to show their insurance company has acted breached their contract, a plaintiff seeking additional compensation needs a skilled personal injury attorney to assess the situation.

If the defendant files a bad faith claim against their carrier, and the court rules against the insurance company, not only will the insurance company have to pay out on the policy, but the company might also be ordered to pay additional losses. When insurance companies deny claims they leave defendants open to personal liability, requiring you to directly collect damages. As mentioned above, this isn’t an easy task.

If you are seeking additional compensation for injuries and you or your attorney suspect bad faith on the part of the liable party’s insurance company, you have no recourse because you don’t have a contract with the defendant’s carrier.

In addition, not all insurance company denials constitute bad faith under Florida law. Your attorney, however, may be able to use the prospect of a bad faith judgment to convince an insurance company to “play fairly.” Insurance carriers know the law, and the simple mention of a bad faith claim sometimes motivates them to settle or pay if you have a strong case with reasonable demands. This creates a complex, and sometimes awkward situation, where the original plaintiff and defendant have common interests. These cases require the finesse and expertise of an attorney that understands your rights to seek additional compensation and understands bad faith claims.

Additional Compensation and Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workplace injury claims work much the same as any other claim, but some differences do exist, so they deserve special treatment. If you are injured on-the-job, your first course of action is usually to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance carrier. Florida employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If yours does not, immediately contact an attorney for advice on your next steps.

Unlike other insurance policies, worker’s compensation benefits rarely cover all of your losses. In fact, benefits only cover two-thirds of a worker’s average weekly salary and medical expenses related to their injury. Worker’s compensation insurance doesn’t have traditional policy limits like other insurance; maximum weekly or lifetime benefits serve as that limit.

Even when receiving these benefits, employees might face financial hardship because they aren’t fully compensated for lost wages. Additionally, workers’ compensation insurance does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium with a spouse, or any other damage that might apply to a particular case. Yet, in the vast majority of instances, you cannot sue your employer.

To obtain additional compensation to make up for lost wages not covered by workers’ comp and seek non-economic damages, you may have to file a lawsuit against a third party. Some examples of third-party lawsuit scenarios that might result in additional compensation beyond workers’ compensation benefits include:

  • Your job requires you to work at a property or job site owned by a party other than your employer.
  • You were injured in a traffic accident caused by another driver while you were on-the-job in a company vehicle.
  • You were exposed to toxic substances in the workplace, leaving the manufacturer to share liability with others for illness or injury.
  • A piece of defective machinery at work causes injury, once again leaving the manufacturer potentially liable for damages.

If you sustain a serious injury at your workplace, consult with an attorney who can guide you through the workers’ comp claims process, handle any denials or a reduction of benefits, and advise you on if or when you should pursue a third-party lawsuit for additional compensation.

Let an Experienced Lawyer Help You Obtain Full and Fair Compensation

The skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg has years of experience representing victims in personal injury cases, resulting in the recovery of millions of dollars in damages for our clients. We are here to protect our clients’ rights to full and fair compensation for their injuries and to advocate for them during the claims process and settlement negotiations. When settlement is not an option, we are prepared to aggressively litigate our clients’ cases in the courtroom.

Regardless of the path a case takes, we will always diligently pursue the best possible outcome. Email the Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922 for a free consultation to learn your rights to seek additional compensation when insurance policy limits have been exhausted.

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pelvic Injuries Caused by Motor Vehicle Accidents

Pelvic Injuries Broken fractured accident lawyer Florida

Seeking Compensation for Serious Pelvic Injuries

Motor vehicle accidents have the potential to cause a startling variety of injuries and traumas in different ways. Drivers and passengers can receive burns from leaking gas tanks, lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, contusions, and broken/fractured bones. The physical trauma that a motor vehicle accident can inflict on someone is often significant depending on the speed and size of the vehicles involved. People can be killed on impact but more often than not they end up suffering severe bruising and broken or fractured bones. Most of the time something like a broken or fractured bone heals fairly simply with time after the bone is set and immobilized with a cast. While broken bones are often simple problems when it comes to health, there is potential for there to be much more complication when certain bones are structurally compromised.
Key parts of our bone structure do much more than simply provide a frame for our body. Bones house marrow that creates blood cells and many other essential components of the body that make the whole thing work. The body can suffer an incredible amount of damage when motor vehicle accidents break or fracture important bone structures such as the skull, spine, and pelvis. The skull and spine are pretty obvious when it comes to the level of damage that can be sustained when they break but many underestimate what can happen when the pelvis is fractured or broken.

Understanding the Importance of the Pelvis

The pelvis is defined as the bone structure and area of the abdomen that consists of the sacrum, the coccyx, and hip bones that surround the pelvic cavity which houses reproductive and digestive organs. The pelvis acts as a sort of structural keystone for the rest of the body. Much of the weight of the skeleton rests on the pelvic bone structure and it also works as a crossroads for many important joints from your spine to your legs.
The pelvis also contains many essential organs that are intertwined with the structure of the pelvis known as the pelvic cavity. This cavity contains the reproductive organs, the intestines, the rectum, the bladder, the colon, as well as a number of major nerves and arteries. Since all of these organs are tightly squeezed into this one cavity any health issues with one organ run a high risk of affecting the others.

Pelvic Fractures/Breaks

Like many of the bones in the human body, the pelvis is at risk to suffer breaks and fractures should a person be involved in a motor vehicle accident. The pelvis can suffer minor fractures that can heal on their own over time but more serious fractures and breaks can be life-threatening. When the pelvis experiences a fracture or break then the body’s whole structure is at risk of causing even further damage to the organs in its proximity. The structure can put pressure on organs or in the worst case scenario, pieces of bone can splinter and pierce through several organs at once. When a part of the pelvis breaks completely it can seriously affect the stability of the entire skeleton leading to a number of issues.

Treating a Pelvic Fracture/Break

When someone suffers a pelvic fracture or break it is imperative that they receive emergency medical treatment as soon as possible. The damage caused by a break could have lead to internal bleeding or organ rupture that could prove fatal. Initial treatment typically consists of emergency surgery to stop the bleeding and stabilize a patients condition followed by surgery to attempt repair of damaged organs and the fracture/break of the pelvis usually with some kind of combination of devices like pins, screws, or plates. Following the initial treatment is a long recuperation period and extensive physical therapy to help regain mobility and strength.

Long Term Damages Caused by Pelvic Fracture/Breaks

Those that suffer pelvic severe fractures will likely have to face long-term damages in the form of extensive medical expenses for things such as the emergency treatment, hospital recovery, medication, therapy, etc. and may have their finances utterly depleted by the ordeal. On top of these medical expenses, a severe pelvis fracture or break may make working much more difficult or even impossible depending on the job and intensity of the damage. A victim of that has suffered this kind of injury may have it inflicted because of a motor vehicle accident involving a car, motorcycle, or tractor-trailer. In this case, the accident could have been the fault of a negligent party like another driver that could be liable for the damages.

Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Injuries

If you have been in a motor vehicle accident that left you severely injured, you might be entitled to recover damages in civil court. Depending on the circumstances, Florida law provides an accident victim with two to four years to take legal action following a car accident. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident to find out which time frame applies to your individual situation. This is likely a difficult time for you and your family. Aside from your physical pain and recovery, you might also be suffering from emotional stress and financial hardship due to medical expenses mounting at a time when your injury prevents you from working.
Call the skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922, or contact us online, for a free consultation and to determine your eligibility for compensation. Our qualified car accident attorneys might be able to help you in a variety of ways, including by investigating your case, obtaining relevant documents and records, handling communication and negotiations with insurance companies, and aggressively litigating your case in the courtroom if a settlement isn’t an option. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we can promise to work hard to recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL, 33712

Friday, March 22, 2019

Why Is Truck Driving Such a Dangerous Job?

According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), transportation incidents are the most frequent fatal workplace event, accounting for 40 percent of workplace deaths in 2017. This includes the occupational subgroup of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers who suffered 840 fatal occupational injuries in 2017.

Believe it or not, this recent data isn’t surprising to those who study occupational injury and fatality. Each year, the data show that truck driving is a dangerous job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that commercial truck drivers are almost eight times more likely to die on the job than police officers. This blog examines several reasons why the nation’s more-than-four million truck drivers remain prone to accident and injury.

Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers have demanding schedules that require long days and driving at odd hours so they meet deadlines to pick up and deliver consumer goods across the nation. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates hours of service regulations that dictate how long a driver may operate in a day and a week. Even with mandatory rest and breaks, truck drivers’ schedules lead to driver fatigue.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that driver fatigue contributes to more than a third of heavy truck accidents. The FMSCA reports that drivers who are awake for 18 hours are as impaired as drunk drivers with a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. Even when truck drivers follow the letter of the law and use mandated electronic logging devices, they might be fatigued. Falling asleep at the wheel can result in a fatal accident for truck drivers and any vehicles with which the truck collides.

Pay Structure

The pay structure in the trucking industry is closely related to driver fatigue, but more broadly related to a truck driver’s choice between safety and productivity. The vast majority of truck drivers are paid by the load and/or by the mile instead of by the hour. This motivates drivers to cut corners to make their pickups and drops as fast as possible. They might skip safety procedures like pre-trip inspections, speed, drive during dangerous weather conditions, and not take required downtime. In the past, truck drivers could easily doctor their logbooks to drive off the clock, commonly referred to as “running hot,” but new federal requirement requiring electronic logging devices make it next to impossible to adjust hours.

Inexperienced Drivers

The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates a current truck driver shortage of more than 50,000 positions that is increasing each year. Long hours and demanding schedules have always contributed to high turnover in the trucking industry, but baby boomers are retiring too. This leaves the shortage of truck drivers to include a shortage of experienced drivers. Smaller trucking companies have chosen to hire young drivers who they can pay less money instead of raising wages to attract qualified drivers. In turn, larger companies poach these drivers once they gain some experience. Driving a big rig requires training and skill that only comes with time on the job. Companies that don’t take the time to properly train their drivers put them at risk for accident and injury.

Lack of Airbags

Seatbelts are the primary piece of safety equipment in heavy trucks that protect drivers from injury when they are involved in an accident. Although the research about the benefits of airbags has prompted lawmakers to make them mandatory in all passenger vehicles, the same mandates haven’t been made in the trucking industry. Some argue this is because a truck’s size and weight already protects drivers and truck occupants are already far less likely to be severely injured than those in passenger vehicles. Airbags cannot replace seatbelts, but when used in conjunction with seatbelts, they reduce injuries and save lives, even in heavy trucks. Drivers who are involved in a severe accident have a greater risk of injury or death without airbags.

Truck Parking

Truck parking makes truck driving a dangerous job for several reasons. First, truck drivers are federally mandated to take breaks and parking isn’t always available when they need to legally end their day. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reports that the truck parking shortage remains a safety concern in Florida and across the United States. When truck drivers don’t have parking spaces in the locations where they need them, fatigued drivers need to continue past their limit until they find someplace to rest. Trucks parking on exit ramps and shoulders of the road is also unsafe. Both situations potentially lead to more truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities for truckers and others. Unfortunately, experts expect this problem to grow with the expected growth of the trucking industry. Ironically, the places that have truck parking also make truck driving a dangerous job: truck stops and rest areas. Not all truck stops and rest areas are unsafe, but drivers might be targets of violence and crime. If a semi is carrying valuable cargo, drivers are even more at risk for crime.

Hazardous Freight

Many trucks carry hazardous materials. Tanker trucks are especially dangerous because they haul gasoline, oil, and other flammable and toxic chemicals. If another motorist hits the truck, drivers may be injured or die in an explosion or fire. Additionally, regular freight can be hazardous when a truck is loaded improperly. This might be a result of an inexperienced driver making a mistake while loading his own cargo or another employee working at a loading dock. Unbalanced and overloaded trucks make it more difficult for a truck driver to control the truck, which already requires skill.

Poor Truck Maintenance

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates rules about inspections, routine maintenance, and repairs for the trucking industry. Trucking companies that don’t follow the law put their drivers at risk for injury or death. Companies might be trying to save some money, especially if they are new. Yet, failing to take care of necessary repairs, skipping routine maintenance, and prolonging mandatory inspections cost more in the long run. If the FMCSA audits a company to check for mandatory repair records, companies will receive a heavy fine. Even more important, when worn tires blow out or brakes fail, this causes the driver to lose control of the truck and might result in an accident. In fact, tire blowouts are the number one reason for truck rollovers.

Long Term Health Issues

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine reported that in a poll of long-haul truck drivers, 86 percent were obese or morbidly obese with a body mass index of 30 or higher. The survey was conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and revealed that long-haul truck drivers are more than twice as likely to be obese as working adults in the United States in other professions, 40 percent of whom fall into the obese category. Obesity in truck drivers stems from multiple causes such as sitting in the truck for long periods of time, lack of regular exercise, eating fast food and convenience food at truck stops, and consuming high calorie sugary drinks while driving.

Poor dining options, long hours of sitting in a cab, stress from driving, and demanding schedules result in many truck drivers suffering from obesity and its fallout. This may include high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, diabetes, and other dangerous conditions. Truck drivers must undergo yearly physicals to obtain and maintain their commercial drivers’ license (CDL), but the dangers that come with these conditions might cause a severe or fatal accident before it’s time for a yearly physical.

Oftentimes, doctors prescribe medications to deal with these issues, which may pose additional risks if a driver suffers side effects from a medication. Most truck drivers already don’t get the recommended amount of sleep each night, taking medications that cause drowsiness, and conditions like sleep apnea dangerous by putting truckers at high risk for falling asleep while driving.

Obese truckers might also struggle with Type II diabetes. Among the many unpleasant symptoms of diabetes, blurred vision and fatigue are especially dangerous and put drivers at risk for an accident. Untreated high blood pressure might create a medical emergency on the road for truck drivers if they have a heart attack or stroke.

Physical Job Requirements

Although it is true that long-haul truck drivers spend a lot of time sitting in a cab, this isn’t true of all truck drivers. Many drivers, even those who drive long distances for delivery, must load and unload heavy cargo. Those who drive auto-transport carriers need to make multiple stops at dealerships and climb the trailer to load and unload vehicles on the upper deck. These kinds of activities are physically demanding and might lead to multiple types of short-term and long-term injuries.

Truckers and Workplace Injuries in Florida

Regardless of whether a trucker has experience or is new to the industry, he or she is at risk for on-the-job injuries that might stem from multiple sources, including those previously mentioned. Truck drivers face many risks, some of which they can control and others that are unavoidable. If you have been injured while driving a truck, you might be able to recoup losses from a workplace injury. Trucking companies, like other business, must carry workers’ compensation insurance in Florida. After an injury, a truck driver must file a claim with his employer’s insurance company as soon as possible.

The dangers that come with truck driving often result in severe injuries. In a recent year in Pinellas County, where St. Peterburg is located, 1,420 commercial vehicle crashes resulted in 364 injuries—numbers that have crept up in recent years. In addition, those accidents killed six persons.

The benefits that drivers receive from workers’ compensation only cover medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages resulting from their injury, so they might face financial hardship while recovering from their injuries. In the event that the workers’ comp carrier denies a driver’s claim or reduces the benefits, drivers may feel helpless. It’s often in drivers’ best interest to hire a reputable attorney to help them file a claim, so the carrier doesn’t deny it on a technicality. An attorney can also put pressure on insurance companies to make sure they are processing a claim in good faith.

In addition, circumstances exist where a truck driver may need to bring a lawsuit against his or her employer or another party with the help of a qualified attorney. Some examples include:

  • The employer didn’t purchase mandatory workers’ compensation insurance.
  • The employer retaliated against the driver for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • The injury includes exposure to hazardous or toxic substances while the driver was driving truck.
  • The truck or a part on the truck was defective and led to an accident and injury.
  • A passenger vehicle driver crashed into the truck, causing an accident.
  • The driver was held-up or attacked by criminals trying to get access to valuable cargo.

When an attorney helps a trucker file a suit in Florida civil court, the trucker may be able to recover additional medical costs for future treatment, lost wages that weren’t paid by workers’ compensation, and future lost wages for a permanent disability that requires long-term care. Drivers may also seek compensation after a severe injury for non-economic damages that vary based on the case. Some of the most common non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium with a spouse, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of quality of life. An experienced trucking lawyer can advise drivers on which types apply to their case.

Contact a Lawyer with Workers’ Compensation and Truck Accident Experience

If you have suffered an injury as a truck driver, a seasoned personal injury lawyer who has experience with the trucking industry can help guide you through the workers’ comp claims process and advise you on if or when may also be able to take legal action seeking damages.

Trucking accident cases are notoriously complex because they often include multiple parties, including trucking companies and insurance carriers. In some cases, other motorists might also be party to a lawsuit. Contact one of our seasoned truck accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922 for a free consultation with a member of your team to discuss your options.

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Who can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

Who can File a Wrongful Death Suit? attorney claim St. Petersburg Florida

Seeking Compensation After the Death of a Loved One

The last thing that anyone wants to do after the passing of a loved one is worry about making arrangments. It is a time that should best be spent recovering and taking care of yourself and others affected by such a tragedy. A loved one’s passing could have been the result of someone’s negligence which can make this whole process all the more painful. Those that were responsible for the accident that caused your loved one’s wrongful death can be held accountable.
A wrongful death suit can be filed to hold those whose negligence caused the death of your loved one accountable for their actions. You can recover compensation for funeral arrangements, any outstanding medical bills for your passed loved one, and even the pain and suffering caused by their loss. The process of taking legal action when your loved one suffered a wrongful death can be difficult. Determining liability, proving negligence, and navigating the whole legal process can prove to be more than most people can handle on their own. Hiring an attorney with experience in handling wrongful death cases is the best thing you can do to ensure that you get the best chance at securing the level of compensation that you need.
Dolman Law Group has a long track record of cases we have handled that have seen the plaintiffs successfully receive settlements that help them to stabilize their lives after the loss of a loved one. We understand that no amount of money can stop the pain that an event like this causes but you should not have to suffer damages that can hurt your finances as well.

Who can File Wrongful Death Suits?

Generally, a wrongful death suit will be filed by the surviving family of the decadent. This can include the:
  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Dependent adoptive siblings
  • Dependent blood relatives
These relatives are referred to as survivors according to Florida law. Survivors are eligible to receive compensation to cover the various costs that arise with the passing of a loved one which can include burial costs, medical expenses, the decedent’s pain and suffering, loss of services, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance and other expenses. Of these survivors, one will have to step forward as a representative of the decedent's estate. This representative can be named in a will or estate plan and if this is not the case then the court will determine a suitable representative.

Complex Wrongful Death Beneficiary Situations

The representative will of course not be the sole beneficiary of a wrongful death claim. They are simply the main figurehead that spearheads the claim while all appropriate relatives will receive compensation as well. When it comes to who receives compensation in a wrongful death claim sometimes things can get a little complex.

Cases where a Child is Born to Unmarried Parents

In cases where a child of a decedent had unmarried parents, their ability to seek compensation can change depending on the gender of the decedent. The child can recover compensation for damages in the case that the unmarried mother is the one who passed away. However, if it is the father that has died then the child can only recover damages if the father formally recognized the child as their own and was obligated to support them as a parent. Otherwise, a child cannot sue for wrongful death damages of a father that was not in their life at all.

Age and Suing for Wrongful Death

Adult children are a complex situation in wrongful death suits. Many wrongful deaths occur when someone is very old and their children are full grown adults. They are of course not as dependent on their parents so are not entitled to the same economic damages that a young child would be. Children 25 and older can sue for damages relating to loss of parental guidance and companionship as well as pain and suffering if there is no surviving spouse. If there is a surviving spouse then a child over 25 is very limited in what they can recover compensation for. Usually only the bare minimum for funeral and medical expenses. On the other hand, if the deceased was over the age of 25, parents are not allowed to recover for pain and suffering unless there are no other survivors.

Blood Relatives and Wrongful Death

The death of a loved one is a traumatic event for most throughout an entire family. Some more than others. Theoretically, not just the parents, siblings, and children are those that can sue. Families can be complex with uncles raising nephews or cousins under the care of older cousins. This is why relatives that can demonstrate dependency on a decedent can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation.

St. Petersburg Wrongful Death Attorneys

If a loved one was killed as a result of the actions of another person or business entity, it is important to speak to a St. Petersburg wrongful death attorney to discuss the complex legal issues that apply to these types of cases. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are skilled wrongful death attorneys and they are ready to review and evaluate your case.
Dolman Law Group offers free consultations to those that have lost loved ones due to the negligence of a liable party. Our lawyers are happy to sit with you to discuss the details of your case and how we can best assist you in taking legal action. Your case is assured the best possible chance at succeeding in getting the best settlement possible when it is placed in the capable hands of Dolman Law Group.
Contact Dolman Law Group today at 727-222-6922 or online to schedule your free legal case evaluation and consultation.
Dolman Law Group
1663 1st Ave S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Injured on Vacation? Here’s What to Do Next

Whether you are flying away for a Caribbean Beach vacation, loading up the family minivan for a road trip out West, or headed to one of Florida’s many theme parks and attractions, you might suffer an injury on your vacation. This time is supposed to exciting, fun, and relaxing, but an accident and/or injury can certainly put a damper on your time away. Adding additional stress to the situation, you find yourself far from the support system of your home, your regular doctors, and other resources that you might draw on after an injury. This might leave you feeling confused and maybe even helpless.

In this blog post, we examine some common dangers you may face on vacation, and we make some practical suggestions to help you manage if you or a family member get injured on vacation.

How Might You Sustain an Injury on Vacation?

Whether you are camping or staying in a hotel, in the mountains, or on the coast, a wide variety of situations might lead to getting injured on vacation. Here are some common scenarios, locales, and accidents that might result in an injury while on vacation:

  • Campground accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Slip and fall injuries and other injuries at a hotel, resort, or vacation rental property
  • Private and public beach accidents
  • Hunting sites
  • Boat and personal watercraft accidents
  • Theme park accidents
  • Car or RV accident while traveling with your personal vehicles or rental vehicles
  • Defective equipment injuries that might occur on a scooter, a personal watercraft, or any other piece of equipment that you might use on vacation
  • Sexual assault

Steps After a Vacation Accident

Regardless of the exact way you were injured on vacation, it can be important to take certain immediate steps to have the best chances of recovering the losses incurred because of your injury. You may have to adjust the order of the following items based on your injury and physical limitations, but try to complete all of these steps to the best of your ability before you leave to head home, if possible.

Put your health and safety first. Some who have an accident on vacation ignore their injuries and refuse medical treatment, unless their injuries are severe or catastrophic and they don’t have a choice. They don’t want to ruin their trip or deal with unfamiliar doctors. Even when you might feel fine, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Some serious injuries don’t immediately present with symptoms and even moderate injuries might give you weeks or months of issues if not treated immediately.

If someone hasn’t called 911 and you haven’t been transported to a hospital via ambulance, head to the nearest urgent care clinic or emergency department. Not only does this prioritize your safety, but it provides medical documentation that you will need for an insurance claim or lawsuit later on. Additionally, if you have been admitted to a hospital, DO NOT TRAVEL home until a doctor clears you to do so. This might jeopardize your chances to recover damages related to your injury.

Notify law enforcement and the property owner. If you are involved in an automobile accident, you need to file a police report with local law enforcement as soon as possible. Don’t leave the scene of the accident until officers arrive. If you are injured at a campground, hotel, resort, restaurant, tourist attraction, or any other place of business, notify the manager on duty, or the property owner, of your accident. Many companies have specific steps to deal with guest injuries.

Document the scene of the accident. In today’s technological age, documenting the scene of an accident is a simple task if you are physically able. Use your cell phone to take pictures and/or video of the scene of the accident. You should also photograph damage, visible injuries and any hazards that might have led to an accident. Record the exact time and date of the accident and any details that you remember.

Regardless of where you were hurt, road-cleaning crews, tow-trucks, business owners, employees, and managers will begin to clean up soon after the incident. This may result in the loss of valuable evidence. That is why any photo and video documentation that you can provide your attorney can be very helpful to support your case.

Gather information. Ask for the contact information from anyone who was at the scene of the accident. Depending on the type of accident that you were involved in, this might include other drivers, business owners, managers, supervisors, employees, bystanders or any other person who witnessed the accident. In addition to contact information, you should also get insurance information from other drivers, if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident or boating accident. You should also keep the contact information for the physician that treated you for your injuries.

Keep all bills and receipts. When you get injured on vacation, you most likely will incur extra expenses. You might have to pay for a hotel for extra nights, rent a car, spend extra money on food, and more. Keep track of these costs because you might be able to recover them through an insurance claim or lawsuit. You should also keep any and all medical bills, discharge papers, etc.

File an insurance claim. If you have purchased travel insurance for your vacation, you should contact the carrier and report the accident and your injuries as soon as possible. Similarly, you should contact your auto insurance carrier to file a claim if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident. Do not admit fault to your insurance company. Let them complete an investigation to determine fault. If your car accident occurs in Florida, fault will only come into play with serious accidents that exceed no-fault policy limits.

Hire a local attorney. Getting injured while you are away from home creates a complex situation that involves multiple issues. You should consult with a reputable personal injury lawyer in the jurisdiction where you were injured as soon as possible. Not only can they determine your eligibility to recover damages in civil court, but they can walk you through the insurance claims process and handle negotiations to maximize your odds of attaining the best outcome for your case.

Don’t share information about your case with others. Insurance adjusters and investigators are trained to elicit statements from injury victims that might ultimately devalue your claim. It’s in your best interest to avoid speaking with friends or family about your case in too much detail. You should also refrain from posting any details or photos on social media. Keep discussions about your accident, injury, and case between you and your trusted attorney, as these conversations are kept strictly confidential.

Jurisdiction Considerations

When you file an insurance claim for an out-of-state accident, the process isn’t much different than if you file it in your home state. Filing a personal injury suit from out-of-state, however, creates some challenges. The largest challenge is choosing the location for the suit. Vacation injuries might involve multiple jurisdictions and parties to an accident might live in different states. Businesses might be headquartered in other states, too. In many, but not all cases, a plaintiff files a suit in the state where the accident occurred. It’s in your best interest to hire a local attorney who can advise you on the best course of action for your situation.

If you sustain an injury while traveling internationally, it may be difficult to recover compensation for your losses, depending on where the injury occurred, unless you purchased travel insurance prior to your trip. This is where booking a trip through a travel agency rather than online might help—a travel agent might know to plan ahead for such contingencies.

There are some circumstances in which you may pursue compensation for an international injury in a U.S. court, however, such as if you booked an international vacation through a tour company, or your injury occurred aboard a cruise ship sailing from a U.S. port. As always, consult an experienced attorney to determine the best way to proceed.

Statute of Limitations on Vacation Injuries

After sustaining an injury on vacation, you will likely have a limited amount of time to take legal action. The statute of limitations varies among states and for different types of personal injury lawsuits. If your vacation injury occurred while visiting Florida, one of the following statutes of limitations will likely apply to your case:

  • Four-year statute of limitations for run-of-the-mill personal injury lawsuits like car accident injuries, boat accident injuries, theme park injuries, etc.
  • Three-year statute of limitations for taking action against a government entity such as a city, county, or Florida state government.
  • Two-year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit when a vacation injury resulted in the death of a loved one.

In some cases, the court might make exceptions or extensions, especially if you live out of state. A local attorney who is well-versed in Florida law will let you know what might apply to your particular circumstances.

Seeking Compensation After a Vacation Injury

If you file a lawsuit from out-of-state, you are entitled to receive the same compensation for your injuries as a resident of the state if a court rules in your favor. The damages that you can recover vary slightly among states, broadly cover the same types of injury-related losses. If you were injured in Florida and decide to file a lawsuit, you might recover the following damages:

  • Medical costs including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, surgery, radiology, and prescription medication
  • Future medical costs when your vacation injury results in a long-term disability or requires extensive recovery that goes on past your day in court
  • Rehabilitation expenses such as physical therapy and assistive devices like crutches, wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs
  • Lost wages for time that you missed from work as a result of your injury and related hospital stay if applicable
  • Lost earning capacity, or future lost wages, when your vacation injury results in a catastrophic injury or severe disability that prevents you from returning to your job
  • Additional expenses incurred because of being out-of-state
  • Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages that apply to your circumstances
  • Punitive damages in cases that involve gross negligence or intentional harm

In the event that a loved one was injured and died due to a vacation injury, surviving family members might be entitled to compensation when they file a wrongful death suit. Damages are similar to those listed above, but may also include funeral and burial expenses as well as non-economic damages that apply to surviving family members.

Contact Dolman Law Group after Your Vacation Injury

The skilled attorneys at Dolman Law Group have extensive experience representing victims in personal injury cases. We have recovered millions of dollars of damages for our clients. Our Florida location makes us the perfect firm to help those who have been injured while on vacation here. We also routinely represent Florida residents who were injured while on vacation in other states.

Regardless of whether you are a visitor to or resident of the Sunshine State, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney from Dolman Law Group to handle your case can help you focus on healing and recovery. Trying to deal with multiple parties and insurance companies from out-of-state adds more stress to the aftermath of a serious injury.

Getting injured on vacation results in a complex situation that might include multiple jurisdictions and parties. Hire Florida attorneys that you can trust to represent you and help you through the legal process of filing a lawsuit to recover damages. If you aren’t a Florida resident, you need a reputable local firm who knows Florida law and can provide you with accurate information about the best way to proceed after a vacation injury here. Contact the experienced lawyers at Dolman Law Group in St. Petersburg at (727) 222-6922 to schedule a free consultation. One of the qualified members of our legal team will listen to the details of your case and discuss your options.

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