Thursday, October 18, 2018

Breaking Down Medical Expenses of a Car Accident

How Much are Car Accident Injury Medical Expenses?

After being involved in an accident, those involved have to contend with a torrent of issues. Cars need to be repaired. Insurance companies need to be contacted. Most importantly, injuries need to be addressed. The sooner this is done the better but that much easier said than done. Medical bills for injuries sustained in a car accident are anything but cheap to deal with. To be fair, any significant injury is anything but cheap in today’s current healthcare environment.
Some that experience a car accident injury start to make inquiries into medical care and discover that their treatment will likely go far beyond a visit to a doctor and a prescription for some pills. Depending on the injury medical care can be surprisingly extensive in its content and by extension, complex in terms of expense. There are some things that should be taken into account by every injured car accident victim when they seek medical assistance.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident then consider contacting Dolman Law Group about a consultation on a possible claim. In some cases, you may have the ability to seek compensation for the damages that you suffered as a result of an accident caused by a driver’s deliberate negligence. Matt Dolman and the Dolman legal team will discuss the legal options available to you so that you may be able to deal with your accident injuries with a bit `more peace of mind.  

Aspects of Car Accident Injury Treatment and Their Expense

We all try to do our best to avoid an injury and ever have a reason to walk into a hospital or similar medical service provider. Unfortunately, accidents happen completely unforeseen and put you in a spot where you need medical help yet you might not have experience on what to do, where to go, or how much things should cost.
One of the things that catch many people who are injured for the first time in car accidents is how much an ambulance can cost. When you are injured to the point that you need an ambulance you don’t consider the cost at all during the moment since your health hangs in the balance. Most people don’t realize that these ambulances can run over $1000 and even go up as much as $2000.

Where to go For Post Car Accident Medical Care

You may not always have to worry about the ambulance since many injuries cannot be life threatening although they do require treatment eventually. You may not even realize that you have an injury since symptoms can sometimes be delayed like with whiplash or a soft tissue injury. Eventually, you will have to contend with your injury which means seeing some form of medical professional. Which form you choose is up to you and the nature of your injury. Some may choose to see their primary care provider about a suspected case of whiplash. Others will choose to visit an urgent care clinic to determine whatever pains they might be feeling in their back. Lastly, someone may choose to go to a hospital emergency room. An important thing to note is that out of all of these options, the hospital is usually the most expensive by far.
Which of these options you will take up depends on your injury. If an injury is life threatening then by all means, get to the nearest hospital. They are open 24/7 and have the expertise and equipment needed for complex life-saving treatment.
If you have an injury that’s not quite life-threatening then you may want to consider an urgent care clinic. If you do something like suffer a large cut, broke some fingers, or just want an examination then a clinic can be a good choice if one is open. They are usually not open 24/7 have less specialized equipment and won’t be the right choice if you smashed your skull open but they will cost a couple hundred dollars in comparison to the thousand a hospital will charge for the same thing.  
Lastly, there's your primary care physician. The best option for a full medical examination after an accident so you can be thorough and catch anything lying beneath the surface. A primary care physician will often refer to a specialist like an orthopedist or neurologist depending on whatever injury they suspect you have sustained.

Additional Treatment Costs of Car Accident Injuries

When you are being treated there are a variety of things that can stack up and significantly increase your medical expenses. When you are being treated, you will likely need to have tests done and this could mean only a few or a lot of tests which can add a good amount of money. Things like simple blood tests can be modestly priced but things like MRI’s and advanced radiology technology can cost a pretty penny.
Next, you will likely be prescribed some kind of medication. Medication may not seem too expensive at first but depending on your injury, you could be needing to fill a prescription for some time and that can add up.
What drives up medical expenses more than anything is recurring costs. Like the aforementioned prescriptions, things like recurring checkups, physical therapy, and tests can drive up the costs of your medical bills over time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking short term. Ask whoever is treating you about the long-term implications of your injury and what could happen should it have any complications.

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact a Clearwater Car Accident Lawyer at Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, you might qualify for financial compensation for your injuries. The key will be whether you can show the person who struck you was at fault for the crash. Often, when drivers speed, they are engaging in reckless behavior which makes them legally accountable for other people’s injuries.
In Florida, few law firms can match our depth of experience and dedication to our clients. We have helped hundreds of clients reach favorable settlements or jury verdicts. To schedule a free consultation to talk about your injuries, please call 727-451-6900 or submit our contact sheet. Avoid delay.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Friday, October 12, 2018

SCI Costs: The Expense of Living With Spinal Cord Injuries

No doubt you’ve known at least one person in your life who’s experienced spinal cord injuries that led to them becoming a paraplegic. How they ended up this way was most likely due to some form of accident, possibly through a car accident.

These people may not like discussing their life-altering injuries with you. Even so, there isn’t a doubt that the expense of living with SCI is beyond devastating. What would happen if you ended up with similar paralysis due to a car accident? Would you know what to do when facing likelihood of overwhelming medical bills?

If this recently happened to you, we’re here to help at Dolman Law Group.

SCI Statistics

Here in Clearwater, we see far too many car accident scenarios where the victim becomes paralyzed for the rest of their life. While places like Florida Health provide a Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Program to help people manage injuries after accidents, the costs are still going to add up.

On a national level, 17,500 spinal injuries occur each year, meaning 54 out of every one million people deal with SCI. These statistics don’t account for those who die from SCI after experiencing a major accident. Currently, between 245,000 and 353,000 Americans now suffer from an SCI, with a majority of those from falls. However, car accidents are still a major cause.

With Florida leading the nation in motorcycle and biking accidents, you can see why SCI has become so prevalent. What kind of costs might you encounter living with paralysis?

What Is the Total Cost of SCI?

According to, the total cost of living with SCI can well exceed a million dollars. This sobering number shouldn’t surprise anyone when you add everything involved from an initial hospital stay to lifelong rehabilitation. Keep in mind: this million-dollar cost is just in the first year.

A lot of this is going to depend on the extent of your spinal cord injuries. The site above notes that those with high tetraplegia are ones who see the costs balloon to one million dollars in their first year of treatment. Similar spinal cord injuries include low tetraplegia and paraplegia. These still cost close to half a million dollars within the first year of being diagnosed. Afterward, costs lower somewhat, yet stay well into the six figures when calculating long-term treatment expenses. Ordinary Americans and limited incomes obviously can’t afford this, especially when you can’t work any longer to support your family.

The Initial Surgery

Not long after your car accident occurs, you’ll likely require spinal surgery in an attempt to save your spine. Rarely, surgical procedures may prevent you from suffering paralysis. Most others aren’t so lucky. Spinal surgery alone may cost within the $100,000 range; you may have health insurance to cover part of this, though perhaps not all.

Once other treatments begin, what your insurance doesn’t cover could still swell into the six figures. Even worse is when the insurance company of the driver who hit you refuses to cover your medical expenses due to disputing fault for the accident.

The Cost of Trauma Care

After your medical team realizes you’re facing permanent spinal cord injuries, you’ll likely end up in trauma care for weeks. This could mean a ventilator or related life-support equipment, adding even more to your medical bills. Despite the Christopher and Dane Reeve Foundation reporting hospitalization for SCI has gone down in recent years, these statistics do not include lengthy time spent in rehabilitation centers. Length of stays in rehab have also gone down in recent decades, but nonetheless serve as a major expense for recovering victims.

The foundation statistics also show 30 percent of those with SCI end up having to resort to re-hospitalization at some point in their lives.

How Much Does Rehab Really Cost?

Studies done within the last decade show that first-year rates for most SCI rehab cost over a quarter of a million dollars. As you likely know, rehab is going to continue for the rest of your life in this scenario. You can’t expect to spend time in rehab for a few months and think it’s going to provide a full return to normalcy.

Consider how long and exhausting rehab would be for you and your family. The time it takes to do rehab will obviously cut into your life, and likely make you unable to hold a job again. Without income to help your family, any savings you might have will end up going toward paying for rehabilitation.

Some health insurance policies pay a portion of rehab, but don’t expect 100 percent coverage in these circumstances. Only a large settlement or judgment from the driver who caused your injuries helps cover at least a portion of your rehab costs.

The Cost of In-Home Care and Equipment

You obviously don’t want to live in a nursing home after suffering paralysis. As a result, in-home care is going to become a reality. The costs of this can now exceed well over $125 per day on a median scale. Over a period of years, you can see the costs go into the six figures once again. In addition, you may need to invest in equipment like wheelchairs and other devices those with SCI use to stay mobile. All these costs need documentation to pursue an adequate settlement from a liable party.

Finding a Legal Team for Immediate Help

Contact us at Dolman Law Group immediately if you’ve experienced an accident in Clearwater and may have spinal injuries. Call us at (727) 451-6900 so we can set up a free consultation to discuss your case. We represent clients with passion and dedication, and can start gathering the evidence you’ll need to win the compensation you deserve.

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

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Halloween is the Worst Day For Child Pedestrian Accidents

Halloween pedestrian accident lawsuit personal injury

Pedestrian Safety on Halloween

Autumn is here and with it comes the usual deluge of pumpkins, milder weather, and most importantly, some of the best holidays of the year. Holidays can often have some downsides to the massive amounts of celebration. On Thanksgiving, car accidents have a way of skyrocketing, Christmas celebrations as well result in an increase in drunk driving accidents as people return from celebrating.
Halloween is unique in that it is a holiday that sees the most child pedestrian accidents of any day of the year thanks to the trick or treating tradition so many children take part in. Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. These pedestrian accidents with trick or treaters have the potential to do catastrophic amounts of damage especially to the young undeveloped bodies of children.
These Halloween pedestrian injuries can ruin lives and cause significant damage to individuals beyond the physical kind dealt to their bodies. With a pedestrian accident claim, a victim of a pedestrian accident can seek compensation for the damages the suffered at the hands of a liable party whose negligence caused an otherwise avoidable accident.

Why is Halloween so Dangerous for Pedestrians?

Trick or treating definitely the primary factor that contributes to the especially high amount of pedestrian accidents that occur on Halloween, but let's examine what exactly it is about trick or treating that puts so many people in danger of being struck by a motor vehicle.
You may say that the obvious reason would be the sheer amount of people that take to the streets in search of tricks and treats and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong, but to say that alone is what leads to so many accidents would be incorrect. There are a combination of unique factors trick or treating presents that lead to the perfect situation for drivers to collide with pedestrians.

Low Night Visibility Causes Pedestrian Accidents

One interesting bit of info is that many of pedestrian accidents on Halloween don’t necessarily occur at night when it is totally dark but actually from 6-7pm at twilight. Drivers may not be expecting trick or treaters out as early and can have difficulty seeing children in the low light or with the setting sun in their eyes. The majority of pedestrian accidents occur in very low light or total dark conditions.
Night, in general, is the most high-risk time for pedestrian accidents. 75% of pedestrian accident fatalities occurred at night in 2015. Generally, any time between 7pm-12am is high risk for a pedestrian accident.
Visibility is a massive issue when it comes to Halloween. Many of the Halloween costumes worn by trick or treaters are not exactly the brightest and most visible colors with black probably being the most common color choice. On top of that, children have much less visibility than adults on account of their height and size which can be missed by large vehicles with cabs high off the ground.

Halloween has Increased Alcohol Involvement in Pedestrian Accidents

Alcohol is a typical issue when it comes to any kind of motor vehicle accident, let alone pedestrian accidents. Halloween like many other holidays sees an increase in alcohol-related accidents due to parties and general revelry. This increased alcohol intake at assorted celebrations leads to an increase in people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated and also many pedestrians that walk while intoxicated as well.
Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of driving while intoxicated at this point. Drunk driving results in poor decision making, reduced reflexes, reduced motor skills, and lack of focus. What many people are unaware of, is that alcohol involvement in pedestrian accidents can actually go both ways in that pedestrians that are intoxicated can be at high risk of being in an accident.
Intoxicated pedestrians may not be behind a wheel to do damage with a car but the effects of alcohol such as poor decision making and reduced perception can lead pedestrians to put themselves in dangerous situations. The most common way pedestrians can put themselves in danger, is to neglect to use crosswalks or other designated pedestrian walking zones. Over 70% of Halloween pedestrian accidents occur away from an intersection or crosswalk.
A third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal alcohol limit for drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Trick or treaters are not exactly going to be stumbling around drunk but they still have to worry about drunk drivers.

Halloween Safety Tips to Avoid a Pedestrian Accident

  • Cross streets at corners and utilize designated crossing areas
  • Avoid walking while distracted by an electronic device like a smartphone
  • Walk, don’t run across streets
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Walk in designated pedestrian areas like sidewalks and paths. If unavailable, walk facing traffic
  • Watch for turning and backing up cars
  • Children under the age of 12 should trick or treat under adult supervision
  • If trick or treating alone, children should stick with well lit familiar neighborhoods and in a group
  • Utilize reflective tape on costumes or possibly use other luminescent materials
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  • Be careful of masks and costumes that obstruct vision and movement
  • Use lamps or flashlights

Has Your Child Been Injured? Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney in Clearwater, Florida

Some accidents are nobody’s fault and are simply part of growing up. But other accidents are clearly the fault of a person or company that has been negligent. If you suspect that your child has been injured unnecessarily, you should meet with a personal injury lawyer.
At Dolman Law Group, our Clearwater personal injury lawyers have brought lawsuits on behalf of injured children against property owners and companies. To check whether you have a valid legal claim to pursue, schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with us as soon as possible. Call 727-451-6900 or submit our contact form.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Prescription Drugs, Driving, and How They Cause Spinal Cord Injuries

Many people have no choice but to take prescription drugs to manage certain medical issues. While we may despise having to rely on pharmaceutical drugs to maintain our health, we also frequently forget how many side effects they cause.

If you’re not paying attention to the side effects of your own medications, it’s time to look at the labels carefully. Your pharmacist should give you warnings about side effects, though it’s easy not to fully understand the risks many medications bring to the table.

A major problem is getting behind the wheel of a car after taking these drugs. You could end up hitting someone, and causing horrific injuries. This could happen to you as a pedestrian or motorist via another driver impaired by their drug prescriptions.

Prescription Drug Accident Statistics

Recent statistics from Tampa Bay show we’re seeing more fatal car accidents occurring due to prescription drugs. This now exceeds alcohol in causing deadly car crashes. With a major opioid addiction problem growing both in Florida and nationally, you can see what’s partially to blame for these accidents. While we already see far too many people here dying of opioid overdoses, many prescribed these drugs are also traveling our roads.

The catastrophic after-effects of these type of accidents are painful to detail. However, it’s important to acknowledge what kind of injuries you or another person may face in these accident scenarios. You’ll also want to see which prescription drugs are the most dangerous in impairing driving ability, to take adequate precaution against potential accidents in the future.

How Car Accidents Can Cause Spinal Cord Injuries

Other than head trauma, the most tragic type of nonfatal injury in car accidents is a spinal cord injury, or SCI. According to medical statistics, car accidents are the leading cause of SCI on a national scale. While some of these accidents are the result of natural misjudgements by a driver, adding prescription drugs to the mix creates worse situations.

Considering body paralysis makes the victim’s life beyond difficult, you can see why drug-related accidents need more attention. If you’re in an accident with potential spine damage, you need immediate medical help. Medical personnel at the scene usually use a rigid neck collar and a rigid carrying board to keep your spine immobilized. Once you’re transported to the hospital, they’ll work to maintain your breathing, prevent shock, and continue to immobilize your neck.

In the event they discover you do have a spinal cord injury, they’ll typically send you to the ICU to start treatments. For many patients, this may mean being transported to a spinal injury center for more specialized care.

Car Accidents from Taking Antidepressants

Did you know antidepressants are one of the most common prescription drugs that could cause serious car accidents? Statistics continue to show antidepressants can impair the thinking ability of drivers and cause vehicle crashes. Past studies showed these drugs do alleviate symptoms of depression, yet still can lead to impairment on a physical or mental level.
These are alarming reports considering how widespread antidepressant use is. A large percentage of Floridians take these drugs, and may not realize the risk posed to other drivers when motorists fail to acknowledge their own possible impairment.

Antidepressants are far from the only type of prescription drug potentially causing car accidents. Many other legal drugs are prescribed or purchased over the counter daily with a very long list of side effects.

Potential Accidents from Taking Decongestants

It’s already known that decongestants can cause drowsiness, anxiety, and dizziness. All of these can quickly impair your driving ability, even when driving slowly.

Traffic often becomes a problem on Florida roads from tourists and rush hour commuters. Having any of the above symptoms from a simple decongestant prescription could mean plowing your car into another in an intersection, or striking a pedestrian or bicyclist due to drowsiness.

When these collisions occur at high-speed, it increases the chance of the victim suffering a permanent injury like SCI for life. Remember, many decongestants are often bought over-the-counter: seemingly innocuous drug can nonetheless lead to a major disaster.

Anti-Anxiety Medications

We’re living in times where anxiety has become more prevalent, or at least more recognized. As a result, more people are being prescribed anti-anxiety medications to live a more normal life. Even if these do work for many people, the side effects would often require a long scroll.

Much like antidepressants, these type of drugs cause symptoms like tiredness, blurred vision, confusion, and nausea. Any of these can create a profound effect on how well you drive. Driving on a highway here in Florida could make things extra dangerous, considering you could collide with someone going over 65 mph.

Last year, there was talk to reduce the speed limit on state roads to avoid these kind of accidents. That debate is still up in the air. Nevertheless, the ability to stop someone using anti-anxiety medications from driving is virtually impossible. No matter what speed you drive while taking prescription drugs, you can still cause an accident severe enough to permanently impair the victim.

Sleeping Pills

As much as opioids are a serious problem, so to are people becoming increasingly addicted to sleeping pills. The drug Ambien has become one of the biggest culprits in causing car crashes in other states. Here in Florida, studies have gone on for years determining what Ambien does to people when they drive. Various DUI incidents occurred due to drivers having Ambien (otherwise known as Zolpidem) in their blood/urine tests. Undoubtedly, many people are still traveling our roads with Ambien or similar sedatives in their system.

Finding Immediate Legal Help

If you’ve just experienced a serious SCI injury from a car accident caused by a driver taking prescription drugs, contact us at Dolman Law Group. When it comes to spinal cord injuries, you’re going to need strong legal help to guide you through the maze of hardships ahead. Call our Clearwater office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule a free consultation, and meet with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your case.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Thursday, September 20, 2018

If I’m Hit by a Florida Lyft Driver, Who Is Responsible?

Getting hurt by a Lyft driver is not something that you expect when you use an app to find a ride. It’s something that could happen when you are a pedestrian, a bike rider, or an occupant of any moving vehicle. However, now that you’ve been hurt, there are many questions that make it hard to focus on getting better. We understand that you’re in pain and facing mountains of medical bills. You don’t know how you will pay them all, or how to recover lost wages since you’re not ready to return to work yet. Seeking justice takes time, but letting the Lyft driver off the hook for your injuries is not the solution. We can help you understand your options.

Florida is a No-Fault State

Accident victims in Florida do have the right to file a lawsuit against the defendant who caused their injuries. In your case, if the defendant was a Lyft driver in the vehicle you were driven in or a Lyft driver in the other vehicle, your legal options could depend on many factors. Under Florida’s no-fault laws, each person hurt in a motor vehicle crash must use Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, usually $10,000, for medical treatment. In the Sunshine State, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident to claim your PIP benefits. If your medical bills and lost wages are greater than $10,000 and you have a permanent injury, scarring, disfigurement, or loss of a bodily function, you might need to sue the Lyft driver and Lyft, defined in state law as a transportation network company (TNC). This is different than a taxi or limousine provider because you, the consumer, used a digital service to find a pre-arranged ride from an independent contractor driver, which is also known as ridesharing.

Understanding the Ridesharing Law in Florida

In Florida, companies like Lyft and Uber are ridesharing services that must follow a new law Gov. Scott signed in 2017. This defines them as a TNC and states the kinds of coverages they must maintain. At a minimum, each Lyft driver must have a minimum of $1 million of liability coverage, which includes bodily injury, property damage, and death benefits. When Lyft drivers aren’t driving around for this service, they must carry at least $50,000 in injury and property damage coverage for their ridesharing vehicle. Making a claim against a defendant driver’s insurance policy is one option. Making a claim against the Lyft insurance policy is another option. A lawyer can determine for his or her client who was at fault.

Our Experience With Clearwater Lyft Crash Claims

Traveling in a Lyft rideshare could be the best way to get safely from point to point if you don’t want to rent a car, or you just want to party responsibly with friends. It’s also ideal for tourists who don’t have a driver’s license or access to a vehicle. Seeking a rideshare doesn’t mean you should have to place your life in the hands of an irresponsible driver. A responsible Lyft driver has the right insurance coverages and earns a living while following state law. There’s always a bad apple in the bunch, and that could be your driver. We know that your medical costs from this accident are adding up, and you deserve to find monetary relief from the defendant’s insurance company. Civil litigation for auto accidents is complex, and there are no guarantees that you will receive relief. In Florida, you have only 4 years to seek relief under current tort legislation.

Each Lyft Crash Case is Unique

Florida statutes explain that accident victims can sue for someone else’s negligence. If you believe the Lyft driver was at fault and your attorney can find sufficient evidence to prove that, you might have a claim. In general, Florida requires an accident victim to prove the existence of one of these conditions resulting from the crash:

  • Permanent injury
  • Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
  • Significant and permanent loss of one or more bodily functions
In car accident cases, a personal injury lawyer may collect medical records from all doctors and medical providers to show that you were hurt by the accident. Without such evidence, the at-fault insurer is unlikely to make an offer.

Typical Damages in Lyft Crashes

When you are hurt by a rideshare driver, you have rights to sue for damages. These might include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Transportation to and from accident-related doctors
  • Pain and suffering
  • Attorneys’ fees and costs
Punitive damages (This only becomes a possibility if the defendants were, based on strong evidence, personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.)

Establishing Liability in Lyft Crashes

Each car crash claim is different. Injured victims should consult an attorney who has worked with Lyft claims before, or who at least understands the impacts of the no-fault, tort, and ridesharing laws in Florida. A licensed Florida attorney may want to review the traffic crash report and conduct other investigations into the accident before determining if there is a potential claim. If more than two vehicles were involved and there were multiple injured victims, the case becomes complicated, which could make it more difficult to seek a recovery on your behalf.

Types of Injuries

As a vehicle driver or passenger, you must prove how you sustained a permanent injury. Here are some of the injuries that Lyft crash victims could experience due to a driver’s negligence:

  • Broken bones
  • Paralysis
  • Nerve damage
  • Head, neck, back injuries/pain/scarring
  • Surgery
  • Permanent loss of any of the five senses
  • Death

How Will I Get Defendants to Pay My Claim?

Each car accident is different. Think of the insurance claims adjuster as someone who does not have your best interest in mind. He or she gets paid to settle claims for a fraction of their worth. It usually takes an attorney to help you argue your case, and to prepare a settlement-demand package to meet the insurance company’s standards. Keep in mind that some cases will not get settled, and may proceed to trial, which is often costly for both sides. At the Dolman Law Group, we are staffed by experienced personal injury lawyers licensed to practice law in this state: while we cannot promise a certain outcome for every case, we can evaluate cases on an individual basis and help clients understand the best course of action in their particular situation.

How Do I Pay My Clearwater Accident Lawyer?

In a typical car accident claim, a personal injury lawyer represents the injured person on a contingency fee basis: this usually means attorney’s fees are only deducted from a successful judgment or settlement. Ask an attorney how much he or she will charge, usually a percentage of the settlement or jury award, and whether the percentage and the itemized expenses (i.e. court filing fees and postage) will come out of the award before or after your share is calculated. We can also help you plan for the future by providing a free consultation. Please call the Dolman Law Group attorneys at (727) 451-6900 or contact us by email.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lyft Accidents: What to Expect

Like Uber, Lyft is a mode of transportation that has become increasingly popular. Many people find themselves wondering how Lyft compares. Is it safer than Uber? More dangerous? Are there specific criteria to keep in mind when choosing between the two? More importantly, under Florida’s no-fault laws, it can be difficult to determine who will be held liable for medical payments in the aftermath of an accident. Are you prepared for how to handle the aftermath of a Lyft accident?

Is Lyft Safer Than Uber?

Ridesharing is on the rise, taking the place of many common services. Taxis are decreasing in popularity on many city streets, including streets throughout Florida, as they are replaced by ridesharing options like Lyft and Uber. Before you take those rides, however, you want to be sure that you’re as safe as possible. With reports of events like a Lyft driver attacking a pedestrian or engaging in sexual assault, you may find that you’re wary of taking either type of vehicle (note that Uber faces its own challenges, including reports of fatal accidents and other types of attacks). When it comes to safety, keep several key things in mind.

Both Uber and Lyft conduct background checks on their drivers. Uber and Lyft conduct extensive background checks on their drivers, which is included as a “safety fee” attached to your payment. When you opt to ride with these services, you get the assurance that goes along with the background check: that your driver hasn’t been previously involved in violent crime, and that they have a reasonably safe driving history. Unfortunately, that’s not always enough to prevent future incidents; and, accidents can happen to anyone.

Taxis aren’t entirely safe, either. Consider sexual assault by a taxi driver, or assaults on police officers. Taxi drivers are no less likely to engage in dangerous behavior than Uber and Lyft drivers—and because of the nature of their job, which keeps them on the road all the time, they may be more likely to engage in risky behavior.

Both Uber and Lyft offer the protection of rating drivers. Drivers must keep their rating at a high level in order to continue to work for either Uber or Lyft. This helps ensure that you’re getting a safe trip with a driver who won’t take risks on the road. If a driver is caught driving while intoxicated or taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel with passengers in the car, consequences can include suspension from the service—which in turn helps keep drivers safer.

When Accidents Occur

Unfortunately, riding in a Lyft vehicle, even with all the safety precautions the service takes, doesn’t mean that you’re safe from the possibility of an accident. If you’re involved in an accident when you’re riding in a rideshare vehicle, it’s important that you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. In most circumstances, because Florida is a no-fault state, both passengers and drivers involved in an accident will turn first to their own insurance to cover any injuries associated with an accident. It is only when injuries exceed the $10,000 coverage from personal injury protection insurance, or if one of the parties involved in, but not at fault for, the accident is permanently injured, that you have the right to sue for damages. When it comes to ridesharing, however, things are handled a little differently. If you’re in an accident, make sure that you:

  • Collect information from all parties involved in the accident, including insurance information
  • Get a copy of the accident report
  • Seek medical attention if required, including keeping track of any documentation provided regarding your injuries
  • Document any necessary pictures from the scene of the accident so that you’ll have that evidence for later insurance claims
  • Ridesharing Insurance Coverage

People who use their vehicles as part of ridesharing services must carry the right insurance in order to protect themselves and their passengers. All Florida vehicle owners must carry minimum personal injury protection insurance, which will cover up to $10,000 of medical expenses and damages in the result of an accident. Ridesharing drivers, on the other hand, must carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage to help protect against vehicle damage, personal injuries, and any injuries acquired by passengers in their vehicles. Both Lyft and Uber may also provide some insurance protection to their drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.

If you’re injured in an accident, your personal injury protection insurance will bear the initial brunt of your injuries. However, you may be able to collect damages from the driver or from the company if the driver is ruled to be at fault for the accident, including medical expenses, especially those not covered by your personal insurance; lost wages as a result of the accident; and compensation for pain and suffering, especially if you were permanently injured in the accident.

The Benefits of a Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in an accident while with a ridesharing service, including both Uber and Lyft, it’s important that you work with a lawyer to understand your rights and what damages you’re due as a result of the accident. Since Florida’s no-fault law may complicate legal proceedings, it’s critical that you work with a lawyer to help ensure that you receive the right compensation! Your lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process, as well as provide a layer of protection between you and the insurance companies that work for the ridesharing service or for the driver. In many cases, these companies may try to convince you to sign an early settlement contract that will deny you some of the funds that are your due. Working with a lawyer will help provide you the legal protection you need.

Have you been injured in an accident while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle? If so, contact us today at (727) 451-6900. We may be able to help you to get the compensation you’re entitled to, regardless of whether or not you carry personal injury protection insurance.

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

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

CTE Crisis: Are You at Risk?

Greg Ploetz, former University of Texas football player, passed away in 2015. After his death, it was determined, by autopsy, that he had previously developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His wife, Debra Hardin-Ploetz, sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); on the third day of the trial, the NCAA settled for an undisclosed amount.

This was recently printed in the Los Angeles Times:
“Former NHL players Daniel Carcillo and Nick Boynton have filed a lawsuit against the NHL alleging the league withheld information on the risks of incurring chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been found in people who have experienced repeated brain trauma. Both Boynton and Carcillo were known for fighting during their careers, and both have said the effects of head injuries they sustained have continued to plague them and adversely affect their lives.”
Both of these cases referenced litigation regarding chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Currently, this progressive degenerative brain disease can only be definitively diagnosed postmortem. Although research is ongoing, presently clinicians and researchers are unable to diagnose CTE with radiological imaging, MRI, or CT scans. In 2016, a reporter for the New York Daily News reported that Boston University neurology professor Robert Stern said he “believes his team will develop methods to identify the disease in living patients before Super Bowl 60 in 2026.”

The movie Concussion, released in 2015, details the pioneer efforts of Dr. Bennett Omalu to uncover the connection between irrevocable brain damage and the repeated head trauma suffered by National Football League players. Media headlines have exacerbated the fear of some parents regarding contact sports, with families less willing to enroll young athletes in many extracurricular athletic programs.

Concussions have both long and short-term complications. They can cause sensory, cognitive, and emotional changes that may develop into more severe problems. Medical experts tell us that anyone who is exposed to repeated head trauma is potentially susceptible for developing a protein in the brain called Tau. This protein is insidious, and over time, can invade all of the brain tissue and disable neuropathways.

Symptoms often do not present for years following the trauma. The first symptoms most patients notice are headaches, confusion, and difficulty concentrating, followed by any number of warning signs, including:

  • Slower speech patterns
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Dementia
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • A difficulty with long-range planning
  • Emotional instability
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

CTE can become apparent in a variety of circumstances. Boxers suffer from frequent punches to the head, football players’ helmets are frequently knocked, and ice hockey players have collisions at almost every game. Other potentially dangerous sporting activities include:

  1. Rugby
  2. Cheerleading
  3. Lacrosse
  4. Boxing
  5. Skateboarding
  6. Skiing
  7. Motocross
There is still much to be discovered about this condition. Based on the limited research cases available, CTE can manifest itself in several ways. One case scenario typically appears in a person’s thirties or forties; the victim develops a rapid onset of symptoms like irrational behavior, irritability, problems sleeping, depression, and often suicidal ideations. Autopsy results reveal that even small CTE lesions in the brain can result in significant changes in behavior.

The second scenario is not as erratic, and shares many of the characteristics of dementia. This becomes evident when a person enters into their fifties and sixties, and can often be misdiagnosed as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Scientific research suggests genetics may be contributory in making some people more susceptible to concussions. Diagnostic testing, still in its infancy stages of development, may be able to predict predisposition to this potentially life-threatening condition. However, we do not know how long it will be before this blood test is available.

What we do know is that there is a clear connection between traumatic brain injury and CTE. Statistics tell us that athletes who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 have significantly worse cognitive problems than other players. Patrick Mark Kinzle Risha was born on December 15, 1981. Patrick’s father, a high-school football coach, instilled a love for the sport in Patrick from an early age. He began playing on an organized team when he was 10. He was an All-Conference running back in high school, and later played for Dartmouth College. Patrick passed away on September 17, 2014, at age 32, by suicide. His autopsy report confirmed widespread CTE throughout his brain.

Contact sports are a leading cause of concussion injuries; however, only one in six concussions are diagnosed. Repeated brain injuries, trauma, or concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. School officials and organizers of community athletic teams are obligated to ensure the safety of their players. Players, regardless of age, who have sustained a head injury should be removed from the game. The Patrick Risha CTE Awareness Foundation was established “to provide parents of school-age children (who have very susceptible brains) with information about the dangers of sports which involve head trauma.

CTE is preventable. As awareness of CTE continues to spread, numerous sufferers may be realizing for the first time that there is a clear cause of their symptoms: if you, or a loved one, think you may be a victim of CTE, the law is on your side. For example, if a child’s athletic coach did not provide sufficient safety equipment, or if sports organizers allowed a child to continue participation after receiving a blow to the head, you may be entitled to compensation due to another party’s negligence.

The safety and well-being of student-athletes is paramount. We need to educate parents, coaches, and athletic directors about the dangers of CTE. More importantly, we must ensure that parties who willingly place young athletes at the risk of serious conditions such as CTE without proper care are held accountable.

If you have concerns or questions about the effects of a traumatic brain injury, contact our Clearwater office at (727) 451-6900 or write to us online for a free consultation.

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