Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

Causes Traumatic Brain Injury Dolman Law Group

Who is at Risk for Traumatic Brain Injury?

Sustaining a traumatic brain injury is a terrifying prospect not only because of the serious ramifications in regard to health and quality of life, but also because of the multitude of ways that it can happen.
While it is true that traumatic brain injuries can occur just about anywhere short of a padded cell, there are several leading causes and areas where people are much more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury.

Areas Of High Traumatic Brain Injury Risk

Car Accident Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries occur at an astounding rate during car accidents. Considering how often car accidents occur and the general level of destruction and injury they result in, it’s not surprising that they are responsible for so many traumatic brain injuries.
According to the Center for Disease control(CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury related visits to the hospital and the third cause of traumatic brain injury caused deaths.
A traumatic brain injury can occur in a number of ways during a car accident. More often, people find themselves suffering a traumatic brain injury due to their head striking the steering wheel or a windshield.  Drivers and passengers alike can suffer a blow to the head from loose debris in the car, being thrown from the vehicle, or really hitting any hard part of the vehicle when they are moved by the force of an impact.
In fact, it doesn’t take any kind of penetration in order to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Someone can be rear ended and a passenger that had no seatbelt on could slam their head into something without the blow leaving any kind of mark. This lack of a physical mark like a bruise or cut would not mean that they have not sustained a traumatic brain injury and they could go on for some time without realizing they’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury.

Sports Related Traumatic Brain Injuries

There has recently been an increase in awareness of the frequency of traumatic brain injuries received in sports; most notably football. Whenever high speed and intensity contact is involved in a sport, there is potential for a traumatic brain injury.
High contact sports like football, hockey, rugby, boxing, and martial arts have the potential to do massive damage to the brain in the form of a traumatic brain injury. Despite the use of padding and helmets, players still experience a remarkable amount of damage.
Football has been the most egregious of all sports in terms of serious brain injuries. A study conducted by Boston University found that over 90 percent of deceased football players they examined, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy which is a degenerative brain condition caused by recurrent damage via blows to the head.
Further research by Boston University also looked into the scary prospect of head injuries effects on youth football players. Children are especially susceptible to traumatic brain injuries and the effects are much more dangerous since they affect them for the rest of their lives.
Boston University found that youth football players that experienced head injuries could expect the symptoms of degenerative brain conditions that affect cognition, mood, and behavior much earlier in life. They discovered that these symptoms could occur almost 13 years earlier than usual in comparison to football players that start later.
Even sports that typically don’t involve intense contact like soccer, basketball, and baseball can be potential arenas for a serious traumatic brain injury. In soccer, there is risk of suffering a traumatic head injury when players use their heads to hit the ball. In baseball, players can get hit by the baseball in the head which can do much more damage than most would expect.
Believe it or not, one of the sports with the highest frequency of traumatic brain injuries features no contact at all. There is not even a ball or points to be made. The sport is cycling and its fairly apparent why so many people suffer brain injuries. Many people simply believe that the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury is worth taking as long as they don’t have to wear a helmet.

Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Around 2.8 million people were treated for traumatic brain injuries in the United States during 2013. The Center for Disease Control managed to determine exactly what were the top causes of all these traumatic brain injuries and the results will surprise you.
47 percent of traumatic brain injuries treated in 2013 were caused by a fall. That’s nearly half and to put into numbers, 1,320,411 falls. It also turns out that falls account for the majority of traumatic brain injuries among the very old and very young age groups as well.
The second highest cause of traumatic brain injuries are “struck by or against” injuries. Basically, these injuries are when the head is struck against or by an object that can be either static or mobile. The definition of object in this case extends to humans as well. Human bones like the skull are incredibly sturdy and can do a surprising amount of damage.
As previously mentioned, car accidents take the number three spot not only overall but across all age groups as well. Car accidents also are the most deadly of all the leading causes of traumatic brain injury. They cause the largest percentage of traumatic brain injury deaths at 32 percent.

Seek a Skilled Florida Brain Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have sustained a traumatic brain injury, then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your claim. Our skilled lawyers have the expertise you need to secure the settlement that you deserve.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers, please call 727-451-6900 or submit our contact sheet.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Soft Tissue Injuries Can be More Serious than They First Seem

The body’s “soft tissue” includes ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Typically, this soft tissue can suffer damage because of traumatic force or through repetition. Of all the injuries you can suffer after an accident, soft-tissue injuries might seem the least serious. After all, your life is not threatened when you strain a muscle or sprain a joint. Furthermore, most soft-tissue injuries should heal with sufficient rest.

Nevertheless, some soft tissue injuries can leave you in chronic pain, making it difficult to return to work and to your old lifestyle. Also, soft tissue injuries can cause complications which themselves are also serious. Read on to better understand what you need to do to recover from a soft-tissue injury.


Ligaments connect one bone to another in the body. You can suffer a sprain when the ligament is stretched or torn. Many sprains occur in the wrists, ankles, and knees. Sprains can be mild, moderate, or severe:

  • Mild sprains stretch the ligament and may cause some damage to the ligament fibers.
  • Moderate sprains result in partial tears in the ligament.
  • Severe sprains are caused by a full tear of the ligament. The bones become incredibly unstable as a result, and joints cannot function.

To treat a sprain, you should follow the RICE protocol, which includes:

  • Rest so that you do not make the injury worse. You might need to use crutches to keep the weight off the injured body part, such as your foot or leg.
  • Ice the injury by using cold packs. Use them several times a day for 20 minutes each, being sure not to place the ice pack directly on your skin.
  • Apply a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevate the injured body part to reduce the swelling. You should elevate the injured part above your heart.

Depending on the severity, you might need to take other action. For example, if your sprain is moderate, you might need to wear a brace and participate in physical therapy to regain functioning. If your sprain is severe, you might need surgery to reconnect the ligament to the bone. Surgery carries its own complications, including the risk of infection or injury due to improper anesthesia.


Strains usually involve an injury to your muscle or tendon (or both). Tendons attach muscles to bone. These tendons can become stretched or they might partially or completely tear. You will know you have a strain if you feel muscle spasms, pain, weakness, swelling, cramping, and inflammation.

Strains are common in contact sports like soccer, ice hockey, wrestling, football, and boxing. Other athletes might suffer a strain because the sport requires sudden movement, such as gymnastics, hurdling, or tennis.

To treat a strain, follow the same procedure as you would for a sprain (listed above). If the tearing is complete, then you might need to have surgery to reattach the tendon to your muscle or bone. Strains carry the same complications as sprains.


A contusion is a bruise. Often, bruising is merely a cosmetic problem that should slowly fade over time. Contusions are caused by direct trauma to the body that crushes fibers and connective tissue underneath the skin without breaking through the dermis or epidermis.

Contusions respond well to the RICE protocol described above. However, in a few situations, you might develop complications:

  • Hematomas occur when blood builds up, causing pressure and pain. A doctor might need to drain the hematoma to relieve pressure.
  • Compartmental syndrome occurs when muscle pressure increases and prevents blood flow. The loss of blood ultimately damages the muscle permanently.
  • Myositis ossificans occurs when bone tissue grows where it shouldn’t. In bad cases, you might need surgery to remove the bone.


Whiplash is a term used to describe a variety of symptoms many motorists suffer after a collision. Violent motion forces the head beyond its normal range of motion, causing damage to muscles and ligaments in the neck. Because of these injuries, victims might experience the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Pain and stiffness in the neck
  • Pain in the shoulders or upper back
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Impairment of concentration
  • Memory problems

Whiplash symptoms sometimes are slow to develop. For example, you might not feel pain until 24 hours have passed from the accident. To protect yourself, you should immediately seek medical treatment as soon as you notice the first symptoms after a collision.

Whiplash can range anywhere from mild to severe. To treat mild whiplash, patients usually apply heat or ice to the affected area and take over-the-counter medicines to manage pain. You might also benefit from massage or physical therapy to increase a range of motion in your neck.

Although mild whiplash can clear on its own in a couple of weeks, severe whiplash can leave victims in pain for years. Severe whiplash can seriously interfere with work, schooling, and family life.

Compressed Nerve

Anything that constantly pushes against a nerve ending can cause constant pain. You might suffer a compressed nerve (also called a “pinched nerve”) after a strain or sprain if the ligament or tendon presses against a nerve in your body.

Compressed nerves require immediate treatment. Generally, a doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. You might also need surgery to reduce the compression. If left untreated, compression can cause damage to the nerve or to its protective covering. This damage can become permanent. If treated quickly, the nerve can often recover.

Speak with a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer

As you can see, many soft-tissue injuries can leave victims in debilitating pain for months or longer and might result in permanent damage to the body. Even worse, some soft-tissue injuries like whiplash might not be immediately apparent. Remember to treat all pain seriously after an accident and seek out prompt medical treatment.

At Dolman Law Group, our personal injury attorneys can discuss your options for compensation if you have suffered a soft-tissue injury. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our lawyers, please call 727-451-6900 or submit our contact sheet.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

NSC Declares June National Safety Month

In the hopes of increasing public safety, the National Safety Council (NSC) has declared June to be National Safety Month. This tradition continues to highlight how people are injured and killed at work, at home, and on the road. All concerned citizens should review the materials the NSC has made available on their website and commit to increase awareness among family and friends about how to minimize the risk of injuries and fatalities.

The Statistics

One reason that National Safety Month is so necessary is that accidents continue to be a leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, accidents have risen to the #3 cause of death for the first time in history. Preventable deaths are also on the rise in absolute numbers—up 10% in 2016 alone. Preventable deaths claim the lives of 442 each day—a staggering number.

The leading accidents and causes of unintentional injuries include:

  • Drug overdosing and other unintentional poisoning deaths: about 47,500 deaths a year (14.8 per 100,000 people)
  • Motor vehicle traffic accidents: around 37,750 deaths per year (11.7 per 100,000 people)
  • Unintentional falls: 33,381 deaths a year (10.4 per 100,000 people)

All told, unintentional injury deaths total a little over 146,500, meaning 45.6 deaths per 100,000 people. These numbers are far too high given that these deaths are typically preventable.

Fighting Back Against Drug Overdoses

As the number one cause of accidental death, drug overdoses have been in the news because of the opioid crisis. Indeed, the increase in drug deaths is not attributable to cocaine or other street drugs. Instead, the most dangerous drugs are prescription painkillers, which are extremely addictive. Once addicted, many people ingest too many pills at once and die from overdose.

According to the NSC, concerned community members can take several common-sense actions that will reduce the incidence of opioid overdoses in their communities. For example:

  • Talk to your children about the dangers of taking any drugs, including prescription drugs. Your children might not think that painkillers are particularly dangerous, especially when the media has until recently focused on street drugs like heroin.
  • Properly dispose of painkillers by locating a disposal site near you. Many people become addicted because they have access to a family member’s unused prescription drugs.
  • Start a safe community initiative in your hometown. In Madison, Wisconsin, for example, concerned citizens and organizations joined together to improve the availability of help by creating a Parents Addiction Network that provided resources for treatment and counseling.

Medical providers can also reduce the incidence of drug overdosing by prescribing fewer opioid painkillers. The number of painkillers prescribed directly correlates to the number of accidental overdose deaths.

The opioid crisis is complex and no “silver bullet” exists for eliminating all overdose deaths. Nevertheless, following the tips above can dramatically reduce the number of addictions and overdoses.

Improving Traffic Safety

Given how many traffic laws are on the books and the efforts to improve vehicular safety, it is surprising how many fatalities continue to occur in traffic accidents. Improving safety will take a concerted effort. Steps you can take to reduce the risk of accidents include:

  • Obey all traffic laws—but assume that other drivers will not.
  • Pay close attention to traffic at intersections and always yield to other drivers even if you have the right of way.
  • Minimize road rage by pulling over if you feel frustrated by traffic. Refuse to antagonize someone in the grips of road rage by avoiding eye contact and falling behind them so to put some distance between you and aggressive drivers.
  • Give yourself adequate time to get to your destination. When pressed for time, people tend to drive more recklessly.
  • Stay focused on driving. Turn your cell phone off and keep your eyes on the road. If you need to check email or send a text message, pull over to the side of the road.

Another serious cause of traffic accidents is alcohol. According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, drunk driving contributed to 5,233 crashes in 2016. Another 461 fatalities were also alcohol-related. If you suspect a driver is intoxicated or high, call the police immediately to report it before that intoxicated driver kills someone.

Reducing Injuries at Work

Workplace safety initiatives unfortunately receive little attention. Federal and state regulators are only able to personally inspect just 1% of all workplaces under their supervision. Although these agencies publish voluminous safety rules, many employers routinely violate those rules without penalty. Workers who want to improve the safety of their workplaces can take action:

  • Form a safety team of people worried about workplace hazards. Ideally, members of the team should come from all levels of the organization, from the shop floor to upper management. This diversity can encourage buy-in from others. Make sure the team members share a united concern for safety.
  • Know how people perform their jobs. You can’t make a job safer unless you know how employees actually perform it. This is another reason why you need employees from the shop floor through management to participate.
  • Anticipate resistance from management. Improving safety by offering training can cost time and money. Management might balk at spending money on something not perceived as a problem.

Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer in Clearwater, Florida

Accidents, unfortunately, are far too common at home, at work, and on the roads. Thousands of easily preventable deaths and serious injuries continue to occur. With luck, National Safety Month will remind everyone of common risks and increase the visibility of strategies for mitigating those risks.

If you or a loved one has been injured through someone else’s negligence, consider pursuing legal remedies for financial compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group have represented clients injured in motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and medical malpractice claims. We have helped recover tens of millions of dollars in favorable settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of injured Floridians. Call 727-451-6900 or send an online message to schedule your free consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Holding a Resort Responsible for an Accident

Florida is home to many resorts, water parks, amusement parks, recreational areas on water and land, and other tourist attractions. These offer fantastic destination getaways for the whole family. They can, however, be dangerous. Slip and fall accidents may occur as the result of hazardous conditions at a resort. When this happens, the resort can be held legally responsible for failing to keep its premises reasonably safe for the visitors who have been invited onto the property. If you have sustained an injury at a Florida resort, contact the experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights to compensation.

Premises Liability for Resort Owners

Like all business owners, resort owners have a duty to inspect their premises and make them safe for the patrons who have been invited to the property. This legal duty of care arises from both case law and Florida legislation. For example, Section 768.0755 of the Florida Statutes addresses instances when a patron slips and falls on a foreign substance in a business establishment. In order to sustain a claim, the injured victim must prove (1) that the business did know or should have known about the substance, and (2) that the business had a responsibility to take action to remedy it. A failure to do so can result in premises liability. This is a legal finding of negligence that makes the business owner legally obligated to compensate the injury victim for the losses caused by the business owner’s negligence.

Premises liability is not limited to slip and fall accidents. All dangerous conditions on a property can lead to a finding of negligence. For example, a poorly-lit parking lot may result in unnecessary collisions, injuring both drivers and pedestrians. An old roof may collapse and harm guests below. Areas under construction may not have adequate signage or other safety measures to keep visitors out of the dangerous areas. A pool may not have a lifeguard, gates, or other safety measures to protect children. Any dangerous conditions on a resort property can injure patrons and lead to premises liability for the resort's owners.

Real Life Premises Liability Cases at Resorts

Resort accidents have very real and devastating effects on Florida residents. The Orlando Sentinel reports on the case of a woman who was injured on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando. The woman reportedly slipped on water at the bottom of a boat as she attempted to board it. Because of this accident, she was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome and had three nerve block injections in an attempt to manage her pain. She also had surgery to insert a spinal cord stimulator. Her attorney estimated that her future medical expenses related to the accident would fall between $318,000 and $467,000.

Similar accident happen at resorts in other states as well. In Iowa, an injury victim was awarded nearly $5 million as the result of a slip and fall injury at a Marriott hotel. The Quad-City Times reports that the woman slipped on an icy sidewalk in front of the hotel. Her ankle was "shattered" when she fell, requiring two surgeries. In 2014, a jury awarded the woman $1.2 million for her losses. This included lost future earning potential because the woman had to change jobs and take a pay cut as a result of the fact that she could no longer travel for work. Marriott appealed the decision, and the Iowa Supreme Court determined that the trial court had issued incorrect jury instructions and sent the case back for a new trial. A new jury awarded the woman just under $5 million. Her attorney attributed the higher award to her permanent injuries, which had become worse since the first trial. She now has arthritis in her ankle and requires a cane to walk.

Sadly, not all resort injury victims survive their injuries. A pregnant woman was killed at a Fort Lauderdale resort after a “freak accident” resulted in a car crashing into her pool cabana. According to the Huffington Post, the woman and her husband were in the cabana when a drunk driver slammed into the structure, causing it to collapse. The collapse killed the woman and injured her husband. The driver's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. After the accident, the husband sued the drunk driver for wrongful death. He also sued the resort for premises liability, alleging that the cabanas were placed too close to the curvy road on which the drunk driver had been traveling. A jury found that the hotel was partially at fault for causing the woman's death. However, when the hotel appealed the verdict, the appellate court agreed that the hotel was not liable. Because there had been no previous accidents, the hotel had no notice of the dangerous condition, and as a result, did not have a duty to correct the dangerous condition. The appellate court's decision left the bereaved husband with no compensation from the resort for his wife's death.

There are many theories of liability under which a resort can be held accountable for premises liability. An experienced personal injury attorney can help explore all possible theories of liability and sources of compensation that are available to accident victims for injuries sustained at a resort.

Experienced Representation for Your Premises Liability Claim

It is important for accident victims to hold defendants responsible for their negligence in order to prevent other innocent victims from getting hurt. For decades, the Dolman Law Group has held negligent resort owners accountable for exposing their patrons to dangerous conditions. We help accident victims recover just compensation for their injuries from the parties at fault. You can call our office today at (727) 451-6900 to set up a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater personal injury attorney.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Was a Coach Responsible for Your Child’s Injury?

Youth sports activities, leagues, and organized competition are important pastimes for many Florida children. These activities can help teach kids the importance of discipline, physical activity, and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, they also expose children to a wide variety of personal injuries. If your child is injured playing sports, a knowledgeable Clearwater personal injury attorney can work to determine whether a coach, sports league, or facilities owner was liable and must pay compensation for your child's injuries.

Liability for Physical Injuries

When a child is injured in a sporting event, many parties may be legally responsible for causing the injury. A coach may be liable for encouraging the child to play in dangerous circumstances. For example, USA Today’s High School Sports section reported that a former high school football player is suing his coach and school district in Flint, Michigan after he had a seizure as a result of game play. The player told reporters that the coach fostered a climate of fear and intimidation on the team, which kept the player on the field even after he sustained an injury just two days before the seizure. The lawsuit alleges that the coach discouraged the player from seeking medical attention, and encouraged him to play in the upcoming homecoming game.

So when is a coach liable for a student athlete's injuries? Different states have different regulations to protect child athletes. In Michigan, for example, coaches must receive training every three years that helps them understand how to recognize a concussion. Other than these regulations, it is largely up to individual athletic organizations and school districts to ensure the safety of child athletes. Many require parents to sign liability waivers before the child may engage in athletic activities. Others require sports physicals, in order to obtain the added assurance of a doctor's clearance before subjecting children to potential sports injuries. These actions can make it difficult for an injured child to recover damages for sports-related injuries. They cannot, however, protect athletic organizations and school districts from all liability in all circumstances.

Such was the case when a San Diego freshman suffered a devastating concussion on the field in October 2013. USA Today reported that the young athlete, just 14 years old, began to feel sick and confused during a game. A concerned teammate reported his behavior to the coaching staff. Nonetheless, the young man continued playing, until he was vomiting in the locker room. Still, coaches did not call 911. The boy's father transported him to the hospital, where doctors determined his brain was swelling. The boy had to undergo emergency surgery. Later, he was placed in a medically-induced coma. Now, the boy will never be able to drive, live alone, or enjoy many aspects of adulthood. His attorney has secured a $7.1 million settlement. These funds will be applied to his extensive medical expenses, future care costs, and to compensate him for his pain and suffering, decreased future earning potential, and the loss of enjoyment of many life activities.

Liability for Sexual Assault in Childhood Sports

Unfortunately, not all childhood sporting injuries are sustained on the playing field. Recent high-profile cases have shown the pervasiveness of sexual assault committed by coaches against child athletes. This, too, is a personal injury, and victims have legal rights to compensation for these types of injury as well.

In recent headlines, Sports Illustrated examined the question of whether Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics will bear liability for the sexual crimes perpetrated on child athletes by Dr. Larry Nassar. Nassar, a serial child molester, has been convicted of thousands of crimes against hundreds of girls and young women. He used his position as a team doctor to sexually assault child athletes under the pretext of "medical treatment." He was sentenced to hundreds of years in prison on multiple sentences, which almost certainly amounts to life in prison. But this does not resolve the matter of his victims' personal injury claims. Nassar had been employed by Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics, and other organizations during the decades when he committed his crimes. Victims have already brought lawsuits against these organizations. These employers could be liable for negligent supervision of Nassar in the scope of his work duties. This theory of legal recovery requires victims to prove that the organizations knew or should have known of Nassar's crimes, yet failed to protect children from harm.

Michigan State University has moved to dismiss the claims against it on the grounds of sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity laws protect government organizations (such as public universities) by preventing them from being sued without consent. Such laws relieve taxpayers of the financial burden of legal judgments, but can leave victims without compensation for their losses. It is still undetermined if courts will allow Michigan State to protect itself under the sovereign immunity doctrine. USA Gymnastics, meanwhile, claims that it initiated action against Nassar as soon as it learned of his actions. This conflicts with the athletes' accounts of abuse, starting decades before USA Gymnastics began its investigation of Nassar. It will likely be left to a jury to determine whether USA Gymnastics did, in fact, take action as soon as it had knowledge of Nassar's conduct.

Aggressive Advocates for Injured Children

It is essential for parents to meet their children's legal needs as well as their medical needs. If your child has incurred a sports-related or other personal injury, the Dolman Law Group can help ensure that his or her legal rights are protected. For many years, injury victims in and around the Clearwater area have trusted the Dolman Law Group to protect their legal interests and help them recover just compensation for their injuries—and those suffered by their children. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Clearwater personal injury attorney today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Common Myth: You Can’t Afford a Personal Injury Attorney

The myth that attorney’s fees are not affordable leads many personal injury victims to settle their claims without legal guidance. Unfortunately, these victims often end up with less than fair compensation. They may not be aware of all the different losses that they are legally entitled to recover from a negligent defendant. The experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyers at the Dolman Law Group will help protect your legal right to compensation, while also preventing unnecessary attorney's fees.

What Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The myth that an attorney is not affordable often starts with a stereotype about high-priced corporate attorneys who bill hundreds of dollars per hour for legal services. Most personal injury attorneys do not bill this way. Personal injury attorneys usually work under a contingent fee agreement, which provides that the lawyer will not be paid up front. Instead the lawyer will receive a specified portion of any award or settlement obtained for the injured victim. The percentage usually increases if the case must be litigated in court, as this requires more time and effort on the attorney’s part.

A contingent fee agreement allows an injured victim to obtain legal advice without having to pay a large retainer or initial deposit. This access is a critical step toward obtaining a fair personal injury settlement. Most injury victims have not had to file a personal injury claim before and are likely unfamiliar with the process. Worse still, they may be unfamiliar with the substantive law that protects their rights. Accessing the knowledge, skill, and experience of a seasoned personal injury attorney allows an injury victim to protect his or her legal right to full compensation for all losses sustained as a result of a defendant’s negligence.

Why It Is Worth the Cost to Hire a Lawyer

According to The Law Dictionary, approximately 95 to 96 percent of all personal injury cases in the United States are settled before going to trial. This means that the overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are resolved through a negotiated settlement agreement between the parties. This can be the result of a victim negotiating directly with the defendant's insurance company, or attorneys for each party negotiating a settlement. It can also be a formal settlement procedure such as arbitration or mediation. These processes can be done with the assistance of a private mediator or an arbitrator hired by the parties, or with a court-appointed mediator or arbitrator as part of a court's settlement program. Many courts now require parties to undergo some type of mediation before they may submit their claims to trial.

These settlement negotiations often determine how much compensation an injured victim recovers. For this reason, it's important to have legal advice throughout the process. An attorney's ability to protect the victim's legal rights is supported by statistics, as personal injury victims represented by counsel tend to get larger personal injury settlements than those who are unrepresented. Avvo reports research from the Insurance Research Council finding settlements 40 percent larger for victims who had attorneys than victims who represented themselves during negotiations.

The Difference Legal Advice Can Make to Real Florida Injury Victims

Local cases demonstrate just how much impact an attorney’s advice can have upon a personal injury settlement. The Tampa Bay Times reported that a 22-year legal battle has finally resulted in badly-needed payment to a seriously injured victim. The victim's motorcycle crashed into a Tampa Water Department truck in 1996. The motorcyclist was badly injured, and emergency room doctors did not expect him to live. Although the victim survived, he was severely maimed. In 2004, a jury decided that the City owed the accident victim $18 million for the damages caused by its truck. But legal restrictions prevented him from obtaining more than $100,000 due to Florida's sovereign immunity laws (which limit liability for the state, county, and local government entities that are found negligent and thus liable for causing personal injuries).

The victim's only option was to seek a special claims bill from the state legislature. An approved bill would also need to be signed by the governor in order to be effective. Claims bills were introduced to the state legislature in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, but never successfully passed. Finally, the victim and the City of Tampa reached a negotiated settlement of $5 million in 2018. This enabled the claims bill to pass the legislature and be signed by the governor. After an especially lengthy legal battle, the victim is finally able to access some compensation for the life-altering injuries he sustained more than two decades ago.

Another Florida woman also needed the assistance of an attorney to access coverage under her own underinsured motorist coverage. The Daily Business Review reports that the woman’s insurer questioned a surgeon's bill for more than $27,000, calling it "excessive and not reasonable." The insurer's offer for this and other bills eventually increased to $14,104. The victim sued her insurance company for bad faith in handling her claim. A jury awarded her over $1.3 million, which a state court later reduced to her $100,000 policy limits. The claim is still being appealed. Nonetheless, this victim's tenacity has kept her from having to accept an inadequate settlement offer.

Aggressive Representation for your Personal Injury Claim

Regardless of whether you were injured because of a workplace accident, car accident, medical malpractice, or other circumstances, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney who is dedicated to aggressively advocating to recover compensation for your losses. For years, the Dolman Law Group has protected the rights of injury victims in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. We fight hard to secure fair compensation for victims injured by someone else’s negligence.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Did You Need Surgery to Repair a Surgical Error?

It is an unfortunate fact that patients cannot always rely on medical providers to render adequate care. Especially during complicated surgical procedures, negligence can result in devastating injuries. These injuries can lead to amputation, paralysis, lifelong pain and suffering, or the need for further surgeries to undo the damage from the initial procedure. Surgical errors often entitle the victim to recover compensation for the financial losses he or she incurs as the result of the botched procedure. The experienced Clearwater medical malpractice attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help victims both access compensation for their losses and hold negligent medical providers responsible for exposing innocent patients to dangerous medical care.

Common Types of Surgical Errors

The International Journal of Surgery reports some alarming statistics on the frequency of surgical errors. One Harvard study found that 47.7 percent of all "adverse events," meaning medical errors, were associated with a surgical operation. In Australia, the figure was 50.4 percent. More than half of these adverse events were determined to be preventable. The study also identified eight procedures that were found to be "high risk" for errors. These statistics were determined by the rates of preventable adverse events. These high-risk procedures included:

  • appendectomy
  • transurethral resection of the prostate or a bladder tumor
  • lower extremity bypass graft
  • coronary artery bypass graft/cardiac valve surgery 
  • colon resection
  • hysterectomy
  • cholecystectomy
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm repair

In addition to certain procedures carrying a greater risk of surgical complication, certain surgery sites have been found to have increased risks of surgical complications. Health Services Insights published a study that examined surgical complication rates in complex outpatient procedures performed in physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers, and hospital outpatient departments. The researchers used a private health insurance claims database to compare hospitalization rates after such procedures. They found that hospitalization rates were higher for procedures performed in a physician's office than for procedures performed at ambulatory surgery centers. The authors recommended further research into the safety of surgical procedures performed in a physician's office.

Patient Safety Net also raised questions about basic surgical error rates at outpatient surgical facilities. It reports that one study of data from the Veterans Affairs Department found that half of all surgical errors involving a wrong patient, wrong surgical site, or wrong procedure occurred outside of a hospital operating room. This, too, raises questions about the safety of surgical procedures performed in physician offices or ambulatory surgery centers. Surgical errors involving the wrong patient undergoing an operation, the wrong surgical procedure being performed, or surgeons operating on the wrong body part are among the most preventable of all surgical errors. Because of this, they almost always lead to the surgeon or medical facility being found negligent.

A Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case

In order to prove that a doctor committed medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove that the doctor violated the duty of care to the patient, and was therefore negligent. Section 766.102(1) of the Florida Statutes defines this as “the prevailing professional standard of care for that health care provider.” The prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider is defined as “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.”

However, the Florida legislature has imposed additional procedural requirements that must be followed before a medical malpractice claim can be filed. Section 766.104 requires an attorney to certify that he or she has made a reasonable investigation and found grounds for a good faith belief that there was negligence in the patient's care or treatment. This certification must be included with any complaint about medical malpractice, and attorneys who falsely claim they have such grounds are subject to discipline by the state bar. Section 766.106 also requires plaintiffs to serve each prospective defendant (including doctors, surgeons, nursing staff, and medical facilities) with notice of the intent to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff must then wait 90 days before filing the lawsuit. During this time, each defendant (or their insurer) must conduct their own investigation of the claims to determine whether the defendant bears any legal responsibility. Each defendant must respond in writing to the plaintiff within 90 days. They can either:

  • Reject the claim entirely
  • Accept liability and make a settlement offer, or
  • Make an offer to arbitrate the value of the patient's claim. This is deemed an admission of liability, and the only question at issue is the losses the patient has incurred. These are his or her "legal damages."
These requirements serve a few different purposes. First, the investigation required before a lawsuit can be filed helps to prevent attorneys from filing frivolous medical malpractice claims that have no merit. Second, the 90-day waiting period requires the parties to seriously examine the claim and begin some settlement negotiations before a lawsuit is filed. This helps the case move more quickly once it reaches a court. Both of these actions help facilitate timely resolution of medical malpractice cases and clear crowded court case dockets. They do, however, mean that injury victims have additional procedures and requirements that must be met to file a claim for medical malpractice in a Florida court.

The Right Attorneys to Aggressively Pursue Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Under Florida law, victims of medical malpractice have important legal rights. The right attorney can help victims assert these rights and recover the compensation to which they are entitled. The Dolman Law Group has extensive experience protecting the rights of medical malpractice victims in and around the Clearwater area. Call us at (727) 451-6900 today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive medical malpractice attorney. We fight hard to hold negligent doctors and medical facilities accountable for medical malpractice.

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