Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Proposed Changes To The Florida Referral Rule For Lawyers May Be Questionable

Proposed rule changes submitted to the Florida Supreme Court on August 15, would remove some restrictions for lawyer’s participation in for-profit referral services.
If approved the amended rule would apply to attorney matching websites like Avvo and Legal Zoom as well as non-lawyer owned referral services. The malpractice insurance requirement would be eliminated and rules requiring certain disclaimers in the services ads would be removed.
In addition, a few requirements prohibiting lawyers from working with services that coerce them into providing cross referrals or fail to document their compliance with bar rules will be added.
“You want to make sure that any of the advertising from any of the companies is honest, it’s truthful, it’s not misleading to the public,” said Florida Bar President Bill Schiffino to the Daily Business Review. “You don’t want any inappropriate fee-sharing. You want to make sure that there’s no conflicts of interest. While we cannot regulate these entities – we have no jurisdiction over an internet provider – we do have jurisdiction over the lawyers.”
The amendments were approved last month at a meeting of the Florida board of governors in Miami.
Floridians have been bombarded with ads on TV, radio and billboards targeting car accident victims and slip and fall cases. After receiving a large number of complaints about referrals to affiliated legal and medical care that was sub-standard the association began an investigation. The services such as ASK-GARY and 411-PAIN maintain that they followed the rules. Note that both of those services are owned by chiropractors.
At their meeting on July 29, the board of governors had to take into consideration how the current rule might be a hindrance to consumers seeking lawyers and young lawyers looking for referrals, as the national online matching services had grown considerably.
John Stewart, a Vero Beach Attorney with the firm of Rossway Swan Tierney Barry Lacey & Oliver, who heads the bar technology committee, put it this way. “The overall intention was to ensure that the traditional core values for the profession were protected while still allowing the companies that operate within the regulatory framework to operate.”
The term ‘lawyer referral service” would be eliminated under the amended rule and changed to the term “qualifying provider” due to the fact that some states do not allow for-profit referral services or define them differently. The revised term would include online matching services, directories, group or pooled advertising programs, as well as tip or lead programs. The services would no longer have to include in their advertisements disclaimers that lawyers have to pay to participate or that they are lawyer referral services.
One prominent issue that arose when it came to creating the amendments was a Florida Supreme Court Directive that the new rule should keep lawyers from working with referral services not owned and operated by lawyers.
411-PAIN and ASK-GARY, two of the largest referral services in the state are owned by chiropractors, not lawyers.
Gainesville lawyer Carl Schwait, head of the bars committee on professional ethics said that the boards constitutional expert advised the board of governors that such a restriction could interfere with rights to commerce and free speech. The group could not find a rational basis for changing the rule.
“We can just as easily regulate the lawyers involved by working with qualified providers, whether or not the qualified providers are owned by a member of the bar,” Schwait said.
Schwait continued by saying that he was pleased that the proposed amendments draw a “bright line in the sand” about what lawyers need to know about referral services.
One of the two local bar associations that issued resolutions against the proposed changes was Broward County.
The association did not agree with requirement of malpractice insurance from being removed. Charles Morehead, the president of the Broward County Bar Association said lawyer referral services often advertise to less sophisticated consumers and may be offering lawyers who are incompetent to handle the cases at hand.
“All safeguards for the public are basically being deleted,” he said.
Beware of Lawyer Referral Services
As stated in the above content, lawyer referral services have been subject to a vast number of complaints. Many are owned by chiropractors and medical clinics who are paid by attorneys for referrals. The attorney in return refers the injured client to the chiropractor who uses up all of the clients' Personal Injury Protection (PIP) when they, in fact, should have been seeing a medical specialist for proper care. After that scenario, the unqualified lawyer convinces the client to settle out of court for compensation that is far below the cost of future medical bills, lost income over a lifetime and the value of their pain and suffering. The lawyer receives his fee for doing little work and moves on to the next case tossed to him by the referral service. Now add to that -- the attorney has no malpractice insurance. There is little chance of the victim recovering what he deserves.
At Dolman Law, we never pay a referral service for our clients and do not refer our clients to substandard medical care. If you need an attorney for a personal injury case, look on a legitimate lawyer rating site such as where real clients refer attorneys based on actual experiences. Feel free to check us out and then call for a free, no obligation, consultation with a highly rated personal injury attorney. At Dolman Law, we put our clients first. Call us today at
727-451-6900 for a free consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
Source: Daily Business Review

Friday, August 12, 2016

John Deere Recalls Garden Tractors Due To Dangerous Failures

In conjunction with the with the Consumer Product Safety Division, John Deere has announced a recall of certain models of lawn and garden tractors due to failures with the mowers reverse implementation option (RIO). The RIO system is designed to automatically shut off power to the mower when the tractor is shifted into reverse. Should that system fail during operations, the driver and bystanders are at risk of severe lacerations.
The following Zero-Turn Mower models comprise the list of those being recalled by John Deere. The model numbers being recalled are Z445, Z645, Z655, and Z665 with serial numbers beginning with 1GXZ. For a complete list of the serial numbers included in the recall, please visit the John Deere website. The model number is located on either side of the engine and the serial number is located next to the foot rest on the right side. The recalled tractors were sold from December 2015 through July 2016 at independent John Deere retailers across the U.S.
Consumers that own one of the recalled tractors are required to contact their local John Deere dealer as soon as possible to receive free repair of the defect. Registered owners should expect to be contacted regarding the John Deere tractor recall.  
Although there were no deaths or injuries resulting from the recalled tractors, or riding mowers as they are often referred to, many individuals are injured or killed each year in riding lawn mower accidents. Many of these injuries and deaths are to small children involved in back over accidents. These accidents are the type that the John Deere Rio system is designed to prevent. Recognizing the imminent danger of an inoperable RIO system, triggered the national recall.
The Dangers Associated with Riding Mowers
Thousands of accidents from riding mowers could have been prevented if all of the mowers involved were equipped with a “No Mow in Reverse” (NMIR) system. A large percentage of those injured were children. Most John Deere tractors were equipped with NMIR safety features by 1998 but many waited years to follow suit. Murray, for example, chose not to equip their riding mowers with NMIR systems until 2004. There are still countless riding mowers in operation today that are lacking an NMIR system.
Rollover accidents are another common cause of injuries related to lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers. Many injuries and deaths from being crushed beneath a rollover could be prevented with the installation of a roll bar and lap restraint. Even with the amount of rollover injuries and deaths being well-known, rollover protection systems are not standard equipment on many mowers today.
Preventing Lawn Mower Injuries to Children
The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that more than 17,000 children are treated for lawn mower accidents each year. By following simple safety measures 100 percent of lawn mower related injuries to children could be prevented. Here are four safety measures that should always be taken:
·       Never allow kids to ride on mowers
·       Be sure that all kids are inside and away from the mowing area. If you see a kid nearby, stop mowing until the child is out of the yard.
·       Remove all stones, twigs toys or any other potential projectiles from the area prior to mowing.
·       Never reverse the mower unless absolutely necessary.
Dolman Law Group – Concerned for Children’s Safety
Dolman Law Group is committed to the safety of children at all times. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to learn of a serious injury or death to a child that could have been prevented. Anything that can be done to help prevent injuries to children is a step in the right direction, including the installation of properly working, safety equipment on lawn tractors and riding lawn mowers.
If your child was injured by a lawnmower, call Dolman Law Group today at 727-451-6900 to speak with a product liability attorney. There may be compensation available. 
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 Common Personal Injury Claims

1. Auto Accidents
Vehicle accidents are the most common type of claim. An estimated 37,000 fatalities and an additional 2.35 million injuries occur every year in the US from auto accidents [1]. Although the term auto accident implies that no person is at fault—thus the term accident—which is often not the case. Vehicle crashes can be caused by distracted drivers, poor weather conditions (like wet or icy roads, rain or fog), improper road maintenance, or faulty traffic signals just to name some of the possible causes.
The term auto accident—for personal injury claim purposes—also extends to cover pedestrian and bicycle collisions. Unfortunately, auto accidents are on the rise due in large part to distracted driving as a result of technology as more people look at their cell phones to text, navigate, or play games. Globally, auto accidents rank as the 9th leading cause of death, but by 2030 that placement is expected to reach 5th. [2]
If you or your loved one has been injured in an auto accident, see a doctor right away. Even if you feel fine. There may be injuries that you do not notice right away because of the body being in shock. If you think you were not at fault, contact an attorney rather than dealing with the insurance company directly.
2. Premise Liability 
(Also termed: Negligence and Public Liability)
Premise liability injuries are typically sustained in a public area—though they can occur at privately-owned places—where someone’s negligence has caused harm or death. A common example of premise liability is a “slip and fall,” but there are other types as well. Some examples may include a store leaving something in the way, causing an injury; something unsecured falling from above; failure to follow building codes or failure to designate an area as dangerous, causing injury. Unsafe conditions cause at least 9 million accidents each year [3].
This type of injury is so common because it can happen anywhere to anyone; we all walk around the world—every day. Proving fault or negligence from the property owner is not always possible, but an experienced attorney should evaluate the situation for you. You don’t want to live the rest of your life in pain without proper compensation.
3. Worked-related Injuries
Injuries that are caused while at work are considered work-related personal injury. Roughly 3 million worked-related injuries occur every year in the US. Your employer is responsible for keeping you safe and healthy; it is their legal responsibility. Illness related to your working conditions is also considered a work-related injury, like asbestos-related illness or mesothelioma. If you are injured on the job, a worker’s compensation claim should be filed.
Percent of work-related injuries by category each year:
>       Falls: 39.9%
>       Electrocutions: 8.2%
>       Struck by Object: 8.1%
>       Caught-in/between (like a construction worker being crushed by equipment): 4.3%  [4]
4. Medical Malpractice  
Medical malpractice is also a very common personal injury and is also one of the most controversial. In this case, the plaintiff must prove malpractice caused injuries and that the doctor or medical care provider did not provide reasonably competent care (also called medical standard of care), which can be relatively hard to do.
While frivolous personal injury lawsuits do occur, valid lawsuits are more common than you might think. An expert medical witness is almost always required to testify that a reasonable standard of care was not provided. Your attorney can help you find someone qualified to testify. Dental accidents may be included in this also.
5. Product Liability  
Defective or damaged products cause thousands of personal injury claims a year. There are numerous laws that require products, sellers, and manufactures to maintain a reasonable expectation of function and safety. These types of claims are usually brought against the manufactures or sellers of defective products. For this claim to be valid, the product must be used as intended. This category yields the second highest settlements of all personal injury cases, perhaps since large companies have lots of money and want to protect their reputation. Common products that can be defective are:
>      Toys
>      Clothes
>      Tools
>      Food
>      Drugs
>      Vehicles
>      Heavy Machinery
At the Dolman Law Group, our skilled personal injury lawyers will protect your rights under Florida law to make sure you receive all of the compensation that you deserve. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.

2 Ibid

Monday, August 8, 2016

Untimely Billing In Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”); The 35 Day Rule Of PIP

As medical providers, it is always important to have a great billing department to ensure that services are being coded correctly, sent to the correct place and served timely to the medical provider. One of the issues I speak to my clients about on a weekly basis is timely filing of claims, especially when the patient initially gives them the wrong information.

When a patient is in a car crash and the other person is to blame, what we find happens is when asked for the insurance information they can tend to give the insurance information of the “At-Fault” insurance provider. When dealing with Personal Injury Protection “PIP”, otherwise known as “The Florida No-Fault Law” the information you are seeking is for their own insurance. Meaning it is important to have every person in the office know the difference between a BI claim operating under a letter of protection and a claim that is being billed to PIP. So what happens when, even though the staff is educated, the patient is just not paying attention and gives you the wrong insurance company, or better yet, does not own a car and was in a friends vehicle and doesn’t know their friends insurance?

Under The Florida No Fault Statute  (Fla. Stat. 627.736(5)(c)) is where you find the 35 day rule. It states:

(c) With respect to any treatment or service, other than medical services billed by a hospital or other provider for emergency services and care as defined in s.
395.002 or inpatient services rendered at a hospital-owned facility, the statement of charges must be furnished to the insurer by the provider and may not include, and the insurer is not required to pay, charges for treatment or services rendered more than 35 days before the postmark date or electronic transmission date of the statement, except for past due amounts previously billed on a timely basis under this paragraph, and except that, if the provider submits to the insurer a notice of initiation of treatment within 21 days after its first examination or treatment of the claimant, the statement may include charges for treatment or services rendered up to, but not more than, 75 days before the postmark date of the statement. The injured party is not liable for, and the provider may not bill the injured party for, charges that are unpaid because of the provider’s failure to comply with this paragraph. Any agreement requiring the injured person or insured to pay for such charges is unenforceable.

1. If the insured fails to furnish the provider with the correct name and address of the insured’s personal injury protection insurer, the provider has 35 days from the date the provider obtains the correct information to furnish the insurer with a statement of the charges. The insurer is not required to pay for such charges unless the provider includes with the statement documentary evidence that was provided by the insured during the 35-day period demonstrating that the provider reasonably relied on erroneous information from the insured and either:
a. A denial letter from the incorrect insurer; or
b. Proof of mailing, which may include an affidavit under penalty of perjury, reflecting timely mailing to the incorrect address or insurer.

So what does the above mean to you, the medical provider? It means different things for different scenario’s. Here are the most common that I see on a week to week basis.

Scenario #1- Patient gives medical provider wrong information, medical provider bills the wrong company, gets a denial letter, then sends the denial letter with proof of timely mailing to the correct insurance company.

This is exactly what is supposed to happen. Once you found out that you reasonably relied on the incorrect information you provided the new company proof of timely submission to the wrong company with the explanation of the wrong information. The correct insurance company should deem this timely and pay your bill accordingly. If they do not contact Dolman Law Group at or 727-222-6922.

Scenario #2- Patient gives you wrong medical provider, you bill timely to the wrong company, get denial letter and then send in bills to insurance company without evidence provided by the insured or the denial letter or proof of mailing.

In this scenario, assuming that the denial came after the 35 days from the denial letter arriving, because you failed to properly follow the statute and submit the bills accompanied by documentary evidence that was provided by the insured and one either the denial letter or proof of mailing, your claim will be deemed untimely.

Scenario #3- The patient does not know anything about the PIP insurance and gives you no information so you don’t bill any PIP carrier. A few months go by and the attorney tells you the correct insurance company. You then bill the correct insurance company and explain to them what happened.

Your bill will be deemed untimely. But why? While this may seem similar to a denial, and resubmission the critical part of the statute that have not been followed is the timely submission to a carrier. Because, no carrier was billed you cannot then comply with the portion that makes you attach a timely submission or a letter of denial. Therefore, your billing will be untimely. So what should you do in this scenario?

You must force the issue with the patient or with their attorney to find out the insurance company or their best theory on who the insurance company is so you can bill someone. If you get back a denial and now after some time has passed you find the correct insurer then within the 35 days of the denial you can submit to the correct insurance company and it should be deemed timely. If it is not, then call Dolman Law Group at or 727-222-6922.

Worst case scenario at the onset of treatment you might need to make your patient guess who the insurance company is. At least then you can bill someone. I would recommend waiting until closer to the 35th day (taking into account mailing time) to submit it to give your patient a chance to find the true insurer. Then if they are wrong it gives you more time to find the true one. In the end, it will leave you in a much better position than not billing during the first 35 days where you have zero chance of being reimbursed.

If you have a patient whose bill is being improperly denied for untimely billing or have any questions regarding proper billing reach out to Dolman Law Group at or call (727) 222-6922.

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

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sports-Related Traumatic Brain Injury

We have all heard about sports-related traumatic brain injury in the news and on social media. It has gained a lot of attention lately. But what is a sports-related traumatic brain injury? Is it as serious as it sounds? Could you, or your child, be at risk?
A sports-related traumatic brain injury is any head injury that affects the brain due to a sports-related incident. Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBI, are not necessarily those that only cause permanent, obvious injuries and effects. They can also be not-so-obvious injuries, like concussions. But these more “minor” injuries can have devastating consequences as well. In fact, they are quite common, so they deserve our attention.
What is a traumatic brain injury? What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that occurs when someone takes a blow or hit to the head, falls, or otherwise causes enough force on their body that the brain moves within their skulls. Although the impact may leave behind visible signs, the concussion itself has no obvious externals symptoms of concussion.
Every year, an estimated 300,000 sports-related TBIs classified as a concussion, of mild to moderate severity, occur in the US [1].
One does not have to lose consciousness—or be “knocked out”—nor show other common signs, like forgetting what happened, in order to have a concussion [2].
Concussions are usually categorized as a mild traumatic brain injury, and as TBIs go, they are. But if careful measures are not taken, they can become serious, even fatal [3]. In fact, once someone has been concussed, they are at a higher risk of receiving a second concussion. If they occur within a short period of time, something known as second impact syndrome, can happen.
Second Impact Syndrome
Repeated mild traumatic brain injuries occurring over an extended period of time—months or years—can result in cumulative neurologic and cognitive deficits, which is serious on its own. But repeated mild TBIs, like concussions, that occur within a short period—hours, days, or weeks—can be catastrophic or even fatal. This is called second impact syndrome [4].
In October 1991, a 17-year-old high school football player, playing the last game of his high school career, struck his head on the ground during a tackle in the second quarter. During halftime, he told a teammate he felt ill, but failed to report his injury to a coach or adult. He stepped back onto the field once the whistle blew. After several routine tackles, and the accompanying blows to the head, he collapsed on the field. He was transported to a local hospital where he fell into a coma. CT scans revealed that he had swelling of the brain and a hematoma. He was transferred to a trauma center where they attempted to relieve the pressure on his brain. They were unsuccessful. Four days after what was supposed to be his last varsity game, he died.
He is not alone. In just the last six months of 2015, fourteen teenagers and children have died playing football [5]. And that is just one game and only in a six month period. The statistic doesn’t take into account a traumatic brain injury from baseball, soccer, gymnastics, wrestling, or the multitude of other high-impact, risky sports that our children play.
New Rules and Laws
With incidents as serious as someone’s child dropping dead while playing a game, many people have been pushing for new rules and new laws.
In May 2009, Washington State passed the Zackery Lystedt Law, what some consider to be the nation’s toughest “return-to-play” law. It requires medical clearance of youth athletes under the age of 18 suspected of sustaining a concussion before they can continue a game, practice, or training [6]. Some people consider the law to be too tough, but it is doubtful they are one of the many people who no longer have their child because of a football game.
All these young deaths have caught the attention of some of those in congress. Three representatives introduced The High School Football Safety Study Act in November 2015 recommending the CDC investigate youth sports-related traumatic brain injury and how to prevent it [7]. For now, there are some things you can do as a parent.
Your Child and Traumatic Brain Injury
>      Know the signs-
o   Vacant stare
o   Delayed verbal and motor responses
o   Confusion and inability to focus attention
o   Disorientation
o   Slurred or incoherent speech
o   Observable incoordination
o   Emotions out of proportion to circumstances
o   Trouble with memory
o   Any period of loss of consciousness 

>      Talk to you child- Under-reporting is one of the major reasons that traumatic brain injuries are so out of control in youth. Either athletes do not know the signs, or they do not want to disappoint anyone by not continuing. Talk to them about the dangers, signs, and importance of reporting.
>      Talk to the coach- Do not be afraid to ask the coach about what is being done in regards to TBIs, and what training they or the staff have received.
>      Do not let them play- If your child is hurt, or you fear they may be hurt, intervene. Second impact syndrome is serious.
>      Allow recovery- If your child does receive a TBI during a sports event, or for any other reason, allow ample time for them to recover and follow doctor’s instructions.  [8]

What to do next
Whether you, or your young athlete, have suffered a traumatic brain injury, second impact syndrome, or serious long-term conditions due to multiple brain injuries, you should always contact an experienced attorney with a thorough understanding of brain injuries and brain injury cases. At the Dolman Law Group, we know how substantially a brain injury can affect your life and we will fight to stand up for your rights to recovery. We offer free consultations and do not collect a fee unless you win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office in Clearwater, Florida today at 727-451-6900.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Slip And Falls In Florida: The Law In General

Imagine you are at your local supermarket shopping for groceries. You are looking up and down the shelves for that perfect dinner item when all of a sudden your feet slip out from underneath you. Next thing you know you are on the ground. You feel pain, whether it’s in your knee, your wrist, your foot, or anywhere really. As you lay there on the ground, panic begins to set in. Did I break a bone? Will I have to go to the hospital? Is this my fault? Believe it or not, thousands of people in Florida have been in the same exact position. Their injury may not have occurred in a supermarket, but the injuries are the same. It is important to understand that you are not alone, and Florida has laws that protect those who have been the victim of a slip and fall accident.
How common are slip and falls in Florida?
More common than you might think. Most slip and falls go unreported, mainly because people do not know their rights and what remedies they may have. That is why it is important to understand your rights, and to know when you should go speak to an attorney. As far as those slip and falls that are reported, the number is into the tens of thousands. Each case is different and presents its own set of circumstances. The true value of a case, or its chances of success vary greatly depending on the facts. There are many dangerous conditions like torn carpeting, changes in flooring, poor lighting, narrow stairs, or a wet floor that can cause someone to slip and be injured.[1] Same goes if someone trips on a broken or cracked public sidewalks, or falls down a flight of stairs.[2] In addition, a slip and fall case might arise when someone slips or falls outdoors because of rain, ice, snow or a hidden hazard, such as a pothole in the ground.[3] According to the National Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
·      In the United States alone, over one million people suffer a significant injury due to a slip & fall
·      An average of 17,000 American die each year from slip and fall injuries.
·      Falling accounts for over 8 million hospital emergency room visits yearly[4]
As you can see, the statistics speak for themselves. Slip and falls can most certainly cause serious injuries.
Are there really laws to protect me?
Yes. In Florida, a statute exists to assist those who have been injured as the result of a slip and fall. This statute, 768.0755, explicitly states that a business can be liable if someone slips and falls while visiting. It is important to understand however that the business is not automatically liable just because you fell. The statute tells us that someone who falls has to prove that that the business had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. Basically, this says that a person who falls has to prove that either the business knew about the condition, or should have known about it due to the length of time it existed. Let’s say there is a puddle of water on the floor. The puddle of water is next to a freezer. The company knew that the unit was broken and that it had been leaking, but they put no sign out to warn customers of the potential danger. That would be an example of actual notice. They knew about it, and did nothing to fix it. Constructive notice on the other hand is a little different. Let’s say for example that an ice machine is sitting at the front of the store. You realize after you have fallen that half of the ice has already melted and turned to water. One could make the argument that the ice, because it was partially melted, had been on the floor long enough to have been noticed by an employee and cleaned up. That would be an example of constructive notice. They may not have actually knew about it, but the condition existed long enough that they should have.
What should I do after I have fallen?
It is important to understand that after a fall, you may be severely injured. Some of those injuries are going to be obvious. You will most likely feel pain if you broke a bone or tore a tendon as a result of the fall. But other injuries are less noticeable. If, for instance, you hit your head on the ground during the fall, you may have a concussion, or worse, damage to the brain itself. Always be cautious, and even if you think your injuries are not severe, you should be examined by a licensed physician immediately. If you do not have someone who can take you to the emergency room, take an ambulance. The last thing you want to do is refuse medical treatment and find out down the road that you have a serious injury that could have been addressed right after the fall.
Should I contact an attorney?
It’s always best to meet with an experienced attorney after a slip and fall that way you understand your rights. Based on the circumstances surrounding your fall, you may be entitled to compensation. Speaking with a licensed attorney is the only way to know for sure. If you have been the victim of a slip and fall, or know someone who has, please call the experienced attorneys at the Dolman Law Group. They understand what you are going through, and are here to give you professional advice about how to move forward. Don’t suffer another day, call us at 727-451-6900.   
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
[2] Id.
[3] Id.