Friday, November 17, 2017

Pain Management After a Serious Injury

Whether it was a car accident, a trip and fall on a sidewalk, or an injury suffered at work, a medical term no one wants to see on a record after suffering a serious injury is “maximum medical improvement.” Unlike when doctors register that an injured individual has recovered, rehabilitated, or healed from an injury, when a patient reaches “maximum medical improvement,” it essentially means that the injury is so severe that medicine can do nothing more for an individual. In this case, it means that you are still suffering from one or more of the injuries sustained in an accident even if you have seen some improvement. In the case of spinal or traumatic brain injuries especially, the physical complexity of those regions can mean that there is no complete recovery. In such cases, the only option is often pain management.
Pain Management Options
In the case of paralysis, some people don’t realize that the pain is constant, and you may need pain management treatment on a consistent basis for the rest of your life. Similarly, traumatic brain injuries can lead to severe headaches and migraines that require continued monitoring and treatment for each episode. In fact, many physicians and anesthesiologists actually specialize in pain management, and the following treatments are common during recovery from painful injuries and after patients have reached maximum medical improvement:
  • Pain medications, including prescription painkillers that affect the brain and steroidal medications that reduce swelling
  • Anti-depressant medications that assist with mental well-being and can be used to treat pain
  • Anti-seizure medications that are known to help treat pain related to nerve damage
  • Topical pain-relieving creams and medical equipment
  • Physical and behavioral therapy
  • Electric nerve stimulation
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Targeted injections
More often than not, patients in need of pain management care will subject themselves to multiple pain management treatment types, and they may have to try various combinations before they find something that works for them. Unfortunately, this may mean more money out of pocket to manage pain—and a plethora of side effects.
Side Effects of Pain Management
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, chronic pain is actually one of the most prevalent and debilitating medical conditions in the country, which is why addiction to prescription pain medications is so prevalent. Long-term pain management can have the unintended effect of causing addiction to prescription pain medication and even result in overdose and death. Furthermore, because all medications are processed through the liver, continued use of medication to manage your pain can result in liver disease and failure. Unfortunately, other methods of pain management may not work to mitigate your pain, and you may not be able to afford, or your insurance policy might not cover, continued massage therapy or specialized injections. So if you have reached maximum medical improvement but continue to require pain management as a result of an accident, how do you receive full compensation for your future care?
Calculating the Cost of Continuing Treatment
The cost of your continuing pain management care is dependent on multiple factors, including your age, health, occupation, type of injury, level of pain, and desire for specific treatment. Considering all of these factors, you may need to hire expert economic and medical witnesses to estimate the duration and fluidity of your condition and calculate the expected cost of your future care. Under Florida law, “if scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the [jury or judge] in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion.”
One such expert witness is an economic expert who can calculate future expenses. The expert is permitted to give a professional opinion regarding the potential economic value of your case by determining the approximate cost of your future pain management care and even how that can affect your work-life and occupational capacity. For example, the expert could testify that, due to your inability to work due to pain, you should receive compensation of $100,000 each year during your recovery time of 15 years, and that the future cost of your care is about $20,000 a year. This would result in the expert testifying about the approximate value of your case so that a jury can award an appropriate verdict or you can work to settle your claims with an insurance company.
Seeking Compensation for Your Pain in Florida
Because the cost of continued pain management can be hard to calculate and is mostly an educated guess on the part of economic experts, always discuss your serious injury claims with a Florida personal injury attorney who can help you understand your options. If the injuries are permanent, you have the right to seek compensation in Florida’s courts, but you can always choose to forgo litigation and work directly with the liable party’s insurance company to reach a settlement agreement. If you were injured at work, however, you must generally avail yourself of Florida workers’ compensation insurance. In this case, you will have to work with a Florida workers’ compensation attorney to obtain a settlement from your workers’ compensation carrier that can help compensate you for your pain management.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury and Chronic Pain Attorney Today
If you suffered a painful and debilitating injury as the result of an accident, your life will often change forever. Seeking compensation in court or from an insurance company can help cover some immediate expenses, but working with a Tampa Bay personal injury lawyer may ensure that the compensation you receive for your injuries is enough to cover your future lost wages, pain management, and additional treatments. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help analyze the facts of your case and explain your options for financial recovery under Florida law if you are suffering from chronic pain as the result of an accident. Contact them online or at (727) 451-6900 today for a free, no-risk consultation.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Product Liability Caused By Defective Medical Devices

The term "medical device" refers to just about any device used by medical practitioners to treat a disease, illness, injury, or disability. Some examples of medical devices that have run into medical and legal problems include:

                defibrillators (small electronic devices implanted in the patient's heart that deliver electric shocks to maintain normal heart rhythm)

                stents (tubes, sometimes drug-coated, inserted into an artery to prevent blockage)

                implants (synthetic devices implanted to restore function to the patient's disabled body part, such as a hip or shoulder)

                contraceptive devices

                silicone implants that cause damage to the immune system

                artificial knee joints

                heart valves

                artificial hip replacements

                Any malfunctioning device, such as a pain pump or insulin pump

In 1976, the FDA adopted a process called 510(k) This process allowed for quicker approval of medical devices that were similar to existing products already available without the normal testing that would usually be required. This is a quicker, less expensive way for medical device companies to get their products onto the market. Consequently, we are seeing defective medical devices entering the market that simply are unsafe and that lack any long-term studies.

          Defectively manufactured medical devices. These are devices that were improperly manufactured or otherwise damaged. A defectively manufactured medical device can be created as a result of an error at the manufacturing facility, a shipping problem, or an error that occurs at the hospital or doctor's office. These are medical devices that were properly manufactured but have an unreasonably dangerous design that results in injury. Sometimes, a medical device will have been on the market for a long time before causing serious injuries, typically because the device breaks down in some way. In some cases, the victims may claim that the manufacturer knew of the danger but deliberately concealed it or delayed taking the product off the market.

                 Defectively marketed medical devices. The "marketing" of a medical device refers to any recommendation, warning, lack of a warning, or instruction concerning the use of that medical device.  This category of claims involves anything from a failure to provide adequate or accurate warnings regarding the danger posed by the medical device to a failure to provide adequate instructions regarding its safe and appropriate use. The "bad advice" may have been given by the manufacturer or by a doctor, hospital, sales representative, or other medical provider.

Who Is Liable in a Clearwater Defective Medical Device Case?

If you have been injured by a defective medical device, it is important to speak to an experienced Clearwater products liability attorney to determine if any third party or business is liable for your injuries and damages including.

       Laboratories:  Any testing laboratory that performed tests on the medical device.

       Sales representatives:  Medical device manufacturers often use sales representative who meet with doctors and other members of the medical community to sell devices and made recommendations for uses and applications. 

       Doctors:  The doctor who recommended the medical device may be liable based upon their failure to warn you about potential dangers or to provide adequate instructions regarding the proper use of the medical device.

       Hospitals:  Hospitals and clinics that are part of the chain of distribution between the manufacturer of the medical device and the consumer may be liable for your injuries.

       Retailer:  Products obtained from a pharmacy, drug store, or other retail supplier may also be liable. 

As a consumer or patient, you deserve to be protected against unsafe medical devices. Too often consumers do not discover until it is too late that the medical device they have been using causes short-term or permanent damage. The costs of related to this harm from medical expenses, lost income and rehabilitation can run into the millions of dollars. You have a right to recover your losses.

Contact a Clearwater Product Liability Lawyer

If you have received an injury while using a medical device a third party individual or business may be liable for your damages.  At the Dolman Law Group, our skilled product liability lawyers will investigate your case and protect your rights under Florida law.  Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 3375
(727) 451-6900

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Can You Always File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

There are many ways to resolve a legal dispute. Arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution can lead to a faster (and more cost-effective) resolution. However, when these alternative methods don’t result in a satisfactory settlement, it is important that injury victims retain the right to file a lawsuit. This gives both sides incentive to negotiate fairly. It also protects the injury victim’s right to seek fair compensation through the court system. If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of auto accident, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Our experienced auto accident attorneys will fight hard to protect your right to file a lawsuit, make your case as strong as possible, and secure the compensation you deserve.

There are many legal barriers that can prevent a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit. Learn more about some of the more common problems and what injury victims can do to avoid them.

Statutes of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law which helps facilitate the timely filing of lawsuits by prohibiting claims from being filed after a specified length of time. Thus, injury victims can lose their right to compensation entirely if they do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations that applies to a particular case depends on the type of claim which is being filed. In Florida, a lawsuit based on negligence must be filed within four years from the time the plaintiff learns (or should have learned) of the negligent actions (see Florida Statutes Chapter 95.11(3)). Negligence actions cover a wide array of civil claims, including car accident cases, dog bite cases, premises liability for slip and fall cases, birth injuries, products liability, wrongful death, workplace injuries, and many more.

Binding Arbitration Agreements

An increasingly popular legal tool used by large companies is a binding arbitration agreement. Before a customer can purchase services, she must sign an agreement to submit any legal disputes to arbitration, rather than filing a lawsuit. Binding arbitration makes the arbitrator’s judgment final. The judgment generally cannot be appealed through the court system. Binding arbitration agreements are particularly common with service providers such as assisted living and nursing facilities, credit card companies, mobile service carriers, and other large companies that provide services directly to consumers. Insurance companies are largely restricted from using such arbitration agreements. Car accident victims, therefore, are usually not prohibited from filing a lawsuit on the basis of a binding arbitration agreement. Nonetheless, an injury victim may be impacted by an arbitration agreement with a medical provider, supplemental insurance carriers, vehicle repair shops, and other such service providers.

Notice of Claim Requirement

When a plaintiff has a legal claim against the State of Florida, he must present the claim in writing to the Department of Financial Services to preserve the right to file a lawsuit against the state. This requirement is separate from the statute of limitations. The notice of claim must usually be submitted prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes sets forth the requirements and deadlines for filing a notice of claim for actions against the state.

There are many ways a car accident injury victim may obtain a legal claim against the state. For example, the state may be liable for failing to maintain roads in safe conditions. The express lanes on the I-95 have been the subject of many such lawsuits. In general, these lawsuits allege that the state failed to adequately maintain the lanes and that this failure led to an unsafe condition that caused the car accident (and that in turn caused the victim’s injuries).

This is what happened to Cynthia Fleischmann, a motorcyclist who lost her leg after a particularly gruesome accident in the I-95 express lanes just south of 103rd Street. The Miami New Times reports that a Toyota Corolla plowed through a gap in the pylons separating the regular lanes from express lanes, attempting to quickly jump into the express lanes. Instead, it crashed into two motorcycles, which were both destroyed in the accident. Both motorcyclists sued the Florida Department of Transportation, alleging that it failed to properly maintain, repair and replace the divider pylons, which encouraged “lane diving” behavior such as that of the Corolla’s driver.

In a similar lawsuit, a pregnant woman suffered permanent injuries when another driver illegally crossed through the divider pylon in an attempt to quickly make the next exit. The express lane driver crashed into the pregnant driver, Stephanie Blossom, who then crashed into a retaining wall. Both Blossom and her baby survived, but she required several surgeries for leg injuries that will be permanent.

Express lanes have, in fact, become so dangerous and unpopular that one Florida state senator has proposed a ban on express lanes throughout the state. According to the Miami New Times, Sen. Frank Artiles claims that “express lanes are unsafe, inefficient, and add an unnecessary burden for all users.” This is supported by reports that the Florida Department of Transportation spends $1 million every year simply replacing worn divider pylons. Such costs consume all profits from the express lane tolls collected. Instead of being invested in useful community projects, the tolls simply pay to wage a futile battle against repairing the express lanes again and again.

The Right Attorneys for Your Auto Accident Claim

Auto accident victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and
around the Clearwater area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a difficult and critical time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will negotiate or litigate your case as necessary to protect your legal rights.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ways to Resolve a Personal Injury Case

When someone is injured by the negligence of another, the victim has the legal right to be compensated by the person (or persons, or company) who caused the injuries. There are many different ways to ensure that injury victims receive the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled. If you or a loved one has sustained any sort of personal injury, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. We represent victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, boating accidents, slip and fall injuries, bad medications, dog bites, and many other types of injuries. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will work hard to find the right expert witnesses, make your case as strong as possible, and secure the compensation you deserve.

Learn more about the different options for resolving a personal injury case, the pros and cons of each, and why parties choose to resolve their cases outside of court.

The first step toward resolving a personal injury case is engaging in settlement negotiations. This starts by filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. The insurance company will then conduct an investigation of the accident. If it determines that the party they insure was, in fact, negligent, the insurance company will accept legal responsibility (“liability”) for the accident. If not, the plaintiff will have to file a lawsuit in order to convince a judge or jury that the defendant was negligent.

Once the insurance company determines that the person or company they insure was liable, they will begin to assess the value of the plaintiff’s claim. This valuation is a combination of the plaintiff’s medical bills, her pain and suffering, lost wages, and any other financial loss that is directly attributable to the defendant’s negligence. This can be an incredibly complex calculation. Pain and suffering, for example, varies greatly from person to person, and the nature of an injury or a person’s tolerance for pain can change the award dramatically. Despite these complexities, insurance companies will often attempt to simplify the calculation by performing a simple multiplication of medical bills to arrive at a valuation for pain and suffering. This hasty math cannot adequately account for the unique aspects of each individual case.

If the award proposed by the insurance company is acceptable (or if the parties can negotiate an acceptable amount), the case is settled. If the parties disagree over the appropriate amount of the plaintiff’s award, they must proceed to either alternative dispute resolution or litigation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is becoming an increasingly common method of resolving legal disputes. Instead of conducting settlement negotiations themselves, the parties submit the case  

to mediation or arbitration. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator helps the parties identify the issues in the case, and attempts to help them negotiate a settlement to settle the case. The mediator can either be appointed by the court or privately engaged by the parties. In arbitration, the parties each present their case to an arbitrator. The arbitrator then issues a decision about the case. The parties can usually appeal this decision to a court.

Alternative dispute resolution is a faster and more cost effective method of resolving legal disputes than traditional litigation. In particular, mediation allows the parties to maintain control of the case, and have more of a say in the outcome. Submitting a case to a jury is a risk that is not always wise. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics examined 2005 medical malpractice cases brought to trial and found that the plaintiff prevailed in less than 25% of these trials. The odds of a poor outcome at trial lead many medical malpractice victims to settle their cases outside of litigation.


Litigation is the traditional method of resolving a legal dispute. This is the process by which a plaintiff files a lawsuit against a defendant, submits the case to trial, and receives a judgment issued by a jury. The judgment can either be for the plaintiff, for the defendant, or partially in favor of each. The judgment can be submitted for appeal (although it is generally difficult to find adequate legal grounds for appealing a jury verdict).

There are many reasons why parties choose to resolve their disputes outside of litigation. First, and of greatest concern to injury victims, is the risk of losing. There is no guarantee that a jury will issue the judgment that a party thinks he is entitled to receiving. It is concerning that litigants are generally left to pay their own attorneys’ fees, court costs, and other litigation expenses. These are not insignificant. A trial of a single day results in thousands of dollars of attorneys fees in preparation alone. Second, even if a jury issues an award to a plaintiff, it generally takes longer for the plaintiff to see the funds. The initial delay in scheduling a trial often further delays the process by several months. Even once a judgment is issued, the defense can appeal it, or make a motion to reduce the award. And yet, even when litigation is not used to resolve a legal dispute, it is an important part of the settlement process. The reason insurance companies negotiate with injury victims is because they do not want lawsuits filed against their insured clients. The potential of litigation gives both parties the incentive to negotiate a settlement fairly and in good faith.

The Right Attorneys for Your Personal Injury Claim

Injury victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and around the Clearwater area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a critical and difficult time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will find the right expert witnesses in order to give you the strongest, most effective case possible.