Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Five Design Defects That Can Lead to Accidents

Many car accidents are caused by negligent or reckless drivers who do not look out for the safety of others on the road. However, a good number of accidents can be blamed on defective automobile parts. In these situations, neither driver is at fault for the accident. Instead, the fault lies with the manufacturer of the defective part or the manufacturer of the car. If you have been injured in a car accident, you might be able to sue the manufacturer or others for injuries caused by the accident.

Defective Brake Systems

Poorly designed or manufactured brakes can lead to horrifying crashes. One minute you driving down the highway, the next you are frantically pumping on your brakes to no avail in order to avoid hitting cars in front of you. When brakes fail, accidents are sure to follow unless you can somehow slow the vehicle in another way, such as pulling onto a grassy median or crashing into a barrier.

  • Brakes are very complex, and when there is a design defect any of the following could result:
  • Hydraulic lines that leak
  • Brakes that overheat
  • Calipers that crack
No two design defects are the same. However, each will result in a loss of braking ability and an increase in the risk of a traffic accident.

Defective Tires

Tire blowouts can be unexpected and devastating. Drivers who experience a blowout may lose control of the vehicle and struggle to keep it from pulling them into the other lane and into oncoming traffic. Frequently, the driver compounds the problem by overcompensating for the blown tire. As they feel the car jerk, they instinctively pull too hard on the steering wheel. This response can lead to rollovers, which cause many deaths every year.

Tread separation is one cause of tire blowouts. The tread separates from the casing or body, causing drivers to lose control. Sometimes, a mistake in the adhesive chemical compound renders it too weak to keep the tread and casing together. This design defect is avoidable and can lead directly to accidents.

Malfunctioning Windshield Wipers

You need functional windshield wipers to see where you are going. When heavy rain or hail falls, drivers will be blinded unless they can quickly clear the windshield. If your windshield wipers don’t work—or if they work poorly—an accident can quickly ensue.

Of course, not all malfunctioning windshield wipers are defective. For example, windshield wipers won’t work as well when they have ice or snow on them. After a very cold morning, you might need to clear the wiper of ice or frost so that it can wipe properly. Also, the windshield wiper fuse might burn out, which happens over time, and may not necessarily be a sign that the windshield wipers were malfunctioning.

Steering Wheel Failure

In March 2018, Ford recalled 1.3 million cars because the steering wheels might fall off the steering column. In particular, the bolts that join the steering wheel to the column could loosen over time and ultimately fall off, leaving drivers unable to control their vehicles. Had Ford designed its steering column properly, the steering wheel should not have fallen off, and accidents could have been avoided. According to reports, this particular defect caused at least two accidents.

Airbag Defect

Airbags are meant to protect us in a crash. As your vehicle impacts another object, the vehicle slows or stops, but your body continues to move forward. If nothing stops your forward momentum, you can slam your head into the steering wheel, the dashboard, or the windshield. Although a defective airbag rarely causes an accident itself, its failure may increase your chances of suffering a devastating injury in a collision.

  • Defectively designed airbags can fail for many reasons:
  • The crash sensors do not work or were not placed in the proper place.
  • The airbag’s inflation system does not work properly, failing to inflate the bag.
  • The airbag inflation system shoots out metal shrapnel along with the airbag.
  • The airbag inflates too quickly or too slowly.
Motorists can suffer severe injuries to their face, neck, back, arms, and hands. Some victims also die because their airbags were defective.

Proving a Design Defect

To hold the manufacturer legally responsible for your accident, you need to show that the vehicle part was unreasonably dangerous because of a design defect. In Florida, you can prove a design defect by showing that the product did not operate as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect when using the product as intended. This is the “consumer expectations test.” Steering wheels that fall off, brakes that fail, and airbags that don’t inflate should easily satisfy this test.

Some confusion continues to exist about whether consumers can also show a design defect by using an alternate test, the “risk-utility” test. The Florida Supreme Court has rejected that test. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has also said that injured consumers can argue that there is an alternative design that is safer than the one used, and defendants can argue that no reasonable alternative design exists. Oddly, these factors have no meaningful role in the consumer expectations test, so it is unclear why the Florida Supreme Court has endorsed their application in a defective products case.

Because this is a very confusing area of law, you need a products liability attorney who understands how the law has developed and where it currently stands. At Dolman Law Group, we have substantial experience in products liability cases and understand the intricacy of these types of case as few law firms do.

Speak With a Clearwater, Florida Products Liability Attorney

Design defects put the safety of the consumer public at risk. Manufacturers must be held accountable when their defective products cause injury or death. If you have suffered an injury and think a defective design may be to blame, contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultation today. Our team of products liability attorneys will advise you of your legal rights and develop a plan for gathering the evidence you need to achieve a favorable outcome. Call 727-451-6900 or fill out our online contact form.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Complications of Head Injuries

After suffering a head injury, you might black out for several minutes or longer, and you can suffer a range of complications once you wake up. The types of complications you suffer can depend on the severity of your head injury, with brain injuries causing the most serious complications. Proper medical treatment is critical to your recovery, so always seek immediate medical assistance if you suspect a head injury.

  • Types of Head Injuries
  • After suffering a blow to your head in an accident, you might develop any of the following injuries:
  • Concussion
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Skull fracture
  • Cuts or lacerations to the scalp or face

Cuts and other surface injuries may be straightforward to diagnose and treat, while injuries to your brain may be much more difficult to diagnose. If you notice changes to your mood or sleep patterns, or if you have difficulty concentrating and remembering events, see a doctor immediately as you may have suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.

Complications from Cuts and Other Wounds

A cut, laceration, abrasion, or another skin injury should heal easily if you receive prompt treatment. Stop the flow of the blood with a towel or bandage, and then wash the wound with water (but not hot or warm water). If the wound is deep, you might need to go to the hospital or an urgent care facility to close the wound with dermal adhesive, staples, or stitches. If not, apply an antibiotic ointment, then cover the wound with a sterilized bandage and replace as needed.

Cuts and other injuries to the skin can cause several complications, including the risk of infection if you did not wash or cover the cuts properly. If you notice the wound getting red or leaking pus, or if you have a fever or pain that worsens after a few days, get to the doctor right away. Your doctor might prescribe a course of oral antibiotics to deal with the infection.

Cuts also cause another complication—the risk of scarring or permanent disfigurement. Scarring on the face can be particularly upsetting because it is so visible. Victims can suffer tremendous emotional distress, including:

  • Embarrassment
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Depression

Depending on the severity of the scarring or disfigurement, plastic surgery might be helpful. Many scarred patients need psychological counseling or therapy to deal with serious facial disfigurements as they run the risk of isolating themselves from the public, as well as from family and friends.

Cognitive Complications From Brain Injuries

When you suffer a blow to your head or body, your brain can move slightly and impact the inside of your skull. As a result, you might suffer a variety of complications if your brain is bruised. For example, many people suffer from the following effects on their consciousness after a concussion:

  • Stupor: partial or almost total unconscious, where the patient needs strong stimuli to respond
  • Coma: complete unconsciousness in which the patient cannot be awakened even with strong stimuli
  • Persistent vegetative state: unconsciousness with the cerebral cortex not functioning
  • Minimally conscious state: like a persistent vegetative state, but the patient can process information
  • Locked-in syndrome: a patient is awake and aware of their surroundings but cannot communicate due to paralysis of their entire body
  • Brain death: the brain loses the ability to function

Even if the patient regains consciousness, they might suffer many cognitive deficits that will dramatically affect their daily lives. For example, brain injury patients can develop the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Impaired judgment
  • Problems planning
  • Difficulty problem-solving
  • Slowed processing ability
  • Impaired short-term or long-term memory

Patients who suffer a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) generally suffer greater cognitive deficits than those who suffer a mild concussion or brain injury. However, researchers speculate that multiple mild TBIs have an cumulative effect and can result in serious problems, particularly later on in life. The National Football League has put chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the news because retired players have suffered from Parkinson’s disease, memory problems, or dementia as a result of numerous low-key head traumas over the course of their careers.

Physical Complications

TBI patients exhibit a range of physical ailments as a result of their head injuries. Some of these ailments will require only over-the-counter medications, but others might require prescription drugs or surgery to treat. For example, many patients experience:

  • Headache
  • Fevers
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Blood clots
  • Hematomas
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures

When victims suffer skull fractures or damage to nerves and muscles in the head, they may also suffer facial paralysis, loss of vision, loss of facial sensation, and difficulties swallowing. Skull fractures also pose a risk of infection.

Other Complications from Brain Injuries

Those who suffer from a brain injury might also suffer from communication problems, including the inability to produce written or spoken communication. Many patients have slurred, garbled, or halting speech. The precise problems with language will depend on which parts of the brain have been injured.

Sensory deficits are also a common complication. After a TBI, a patient might lose their ability to smell, taste, hear, or touch. TBI patients frequently struggle with hand-eye coordination and balance, which makes them appear clumsy or drunk. As a result of sensory problems, many TBI patients need to stop working, at least temporarily, until their symptoms improve.

Lastly, many behavioral and emotional changes are associated with traumatic brain injuries. A traumatic brain injury might increase your risk of any of the following:

  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Apathy
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Schizophrenia

These behavior changes should improve or disappear as your brain injury heals. However, after a moderate TBI, some patients may exhibit behavioral changes for several years and may continue to be irritable, have difficulty concentrating, or no longer enjoy favorite activities.

Contact a Clearwater, Florida Head Injury Lawyer

If an accident has left you with a head injury, help is available. At Dolman Law Group, our team of head injury lawyers has obtained compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for many of our clients. To schedule a free consultation, call 727-451-6900 or fill out our contact form.

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Did You Suffer an Injury on a Resort Excursion?

With snowstorms bearing down on much of the country, many people flock to Florida to enjoy the sun and surf. Florida’s many resorts are favorite destinations, providing guests with amenities like massages, secluded beaches, and family-fun atmospheres. They also often provide tours and excursions so that you can see more of the state during your stay.

Sadly, many people return home with more than a sunburn. Instead, they can suffer serious injuries, frequently caused by someone else’s negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while on an excursion in Florida, contact Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation.

Common Excursions

Part of the fun of staying at a resort is going with a small group on an adventure. Some of the more popular excursions include:

  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkel trips
  • Ziplining
  • Hiking
  • Boat rides
  • Helicopter or plane tours
  • Sightseeing
  • Amusement parks

The resort might organize the trip, or a different company might offer it to resort guests at a discount. Although these excursions can add great memories to a trip, they come with many risks, including the risk of suffering an injury.

How People Are Injured on Resort Excursions

Resorts are generally safe, but accidents can happen particularly when you leave the property for an excursion. For example, you might be injured in the following situations:

  • You injure yourself scuba diving or swimming
  • You get sick eating food prepared by the resort or the business that provides the excursion
  • You get into a vehicle collision while riding on a resort’s shuttle bus to your excursion
  • Someone attacks you in the resort’s parking lot or while on your excursion
  • You are injured on an amusement park ride or a ride at the resort

These are only some of the ways people may be injured on vacation. Every situation differs, and what matters is whether someone’s negligence caused your injuries on the excursion.


When you are injured, the first step will be to decide who was responsible for your safety—the resort or the provider of the excursion, which might be a separate business. Depending on the circumstances, the law might hold one or both responsible.

Generally, you will sue for negligence when injured on an excursion. There are four elements to a typical negligence claim:

  • The resort or business owed you a duty of care. If you are a guest, then you easily satisfy this requirement.
  • The resort or business breached that duty of care. Typically, you must show that the defendant was not sufficiently careful in how they treated their guests.
  • You suffered a physical injury—such as a broken bone, cuts, illness, head injury, etc.
  • The defendant’s lack of care caused your injury. In other words, the defendant’s negligence must have been a direct cause of your injuries, and your injuries must have been foreseeable. 

Each of these elements is critical to winning your negligence lawsuit. However, in most lawsuits, the parties argue over whether the defendant breached their duty to you. For example, a resort or business might have breached their duty of care in the following ways:

  • Failing to keep the premises safe by fixing hazards or warning guests and visitors of them
  • Failing to prepare food carefully, maintain food safety, or to hire qualified cooks
  • Failing to hire adequate security
  • Failing to operate a shuttle bus with sufficient care
  • Failing to inspect and maintain rides

At Dolman Law Group, our personal injury lawyers specialize in assessing the circumstances surrounding your injury and identifying whether you have a valid legal claim against either the resort or the excursion provider.

Negligence and Liability Waivers

Before participating in any activity, you might need to sign a waiver of liability with either the resort or the excursion provider. These waivers seek to limit your ability to bring a lawsuit in the event you suffer an injury. If you signed a waiver, find a copy and show it to your lawyer.

These waivers are often binding—but not always. Do not assume that you have no legal case simply because you signed a waiver. Instead, your lawyer will need to analyze the precise language used in the waiver, and the form of the waiver, to see if it applies. Depending on the circumstances, even a valid waiver might not be applicable if the defendant intentionally harmed you or was reckless in how they provided services.

What Compensation You Can Receive

A successful personal injury lawsuit can fully compensate you for all economic and non-economic harms suffered as a result of an injury. Economic harms include anything you can measure in dollars and cents, including:

  • Lost wages, if you cannot work while you recover
  • Lost future wages, if you cannot return to your old job because of your injuries or if you cannot return to work at all
  • Medical care, including transportation to the hospital, doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, and medical devices like crutches or wheelchairs
  • Future medical care, if you need continuing care
  • Property damage
Personal injury victims can also receive compensation for non-economic harms, which are harder to assign a precise dollar amount, such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress for grief, embarrassment, anger, fear, irritability, and anxiety
  • Loss of consortium for negative changes to your marriage, such as the loss of companionship or sexual intimacy
These are just some of the types of damages that may be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. Because every case is unique, your lawyer can help assess the particular circumstances of your case and how you may best recover for your injuries.

Speak with a Clearwater, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

At Dolman Law Group, our experienced personal injury attorneys have secured favorable verdicts and settlements for our clients against some of the state’s largest resorts. Our focus, as always, will be on maximizing the amount of compensation you can receive.

If you or a loved one has been injured on a resort excursion, contact Dolman Law Group now. The law does impose deadlines on bringing lawsuits and you should act quickly to protect your legal rights. To help identify whether you have a right to recover for your injuries, we offer potential clients a free consultation and case evaluation, which you can request by calling 727-451-6900. Alternately, you can fill out our online contact form.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Recognizing the Signs of Medical Malpractice

Each year, medical malpractice causes hundreds of thousands of patients to die, and it injures many more. Medical malpractice, also called medical negligence, can sometimes be difficult to identify. After all, many legitimate medical treatments like surgery may normally cause pain, so pain by itself isn’t a surefire way to identify medical malpractice. Nevertheless, patients should trust their instincts if they believe something is wrong and seek legal help immediately.

Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a particular type of negligence. Generally, it exists when a medical provider injures a patient because they have not been sufficiently skilled or careful. In particular, medical providers must meet the prevailing professional standard of care based on how a reasonably careful medical provider would have treated you given the circumstances.

A key consideration will be what the medical professional knew when they treated you. For example, medical professionals are not mind-readers and cannot be expected to know of symptoms that you don’t tell them about. If you are feeling abdominal pain, your doctor cannot be expected to know about it and check for causes unless you tell your doctor.

Identifying Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms. Doctors and other healthcare professionals owe you a duty of care, and they can breach that duty in a variety of ways:

  • Inadequate treatment. Sometimes, doctors do not administer treatment properly. For example, they might set a bone improperly, break bones unnecessarily, or prescribe the wrong course of treatment.
  • Failure to diagnose. A competent medical professional has a duty to diagnose medical conditions requiring treatment even if they do not provide that treatment. For example, a doctor might fail to check whether the pain in your abdomen is cancerous.
  • Misdiagnosis. A doctor might take your complaints seriously by identify the wrong illness. 
  • Failure to monitor. Medical providers often owe a duty to monitor their patients even after treating them. If they fail, then they might have committed malpractice.
  • Surgical errors. During surgery, a doctor or other medical professional might injure you by not performing the procedure properly or by improperly administering anesthesia.

The above are only some of the ways doctors and others can injure patients through medical negligence. Because each factual scenario is different, if you think you may have been injured due to negligent medical care, you should consult with a Clearwater, Florida medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to see if you have a valid legal claim.

Trust Your Instincts

Sometimes, you will know that a doctor or other medical professional has provided inadequate care. A surgeon removing the wrong limb is a classic—and obvious—example. But other examples will be harder to identify. Accordingly, pay attention to the following situations:

  • You don’t seem to be getting better. In this situation, a doctor might not have prescribed the proper treatment.
  • You are diagnosed with an illness soon after meeting with a doctor who failed to diagnose anything. It might be that the first doctor failed to diagnose you properly, especially if you notified the doctor of your symptoms.
  • You are in a lot of pain. Pain frequently accompanies treatment. However, if the intensity of your pain increases—or if you are feeling it in different parts of your body—then you might have been injured by medical malpractice.
  • You develop complications after surgery. Some complications are unavoidable, but others could result from doctor errors.
  • You receive a second opinion contrary to your original doctor’s. This might be a legitimate disagreement, with each side offering valid medical opinions. However, it could also be a sign that your original doctor made a mistake.
  • Your doctor is avoiding you. This is a tell-tale sign that the doctor knows they did something wrong and want to avoid you so that you don’t find out.
Once you suspect that you have been injured by medical malpractice, you should consult a second doctor for an opinion and contact a lawyer for a consultation.

Compensation You Can Receive

Medical professionals should heal you, not injure you. If you have been injured by medical malpractice, you can receive compensation for your injuries. The purpose of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to make you whole, so you can recover compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses to treat your condition. For example, if a doctor’s malpractice caused you to be hospitalized, you can receive compensation for your hospital costs.
  • Future medical care, if your injuries require it.
  • Lost past, present, and future wages if your injuries prevent you from working.

Physical pain and suffering.

In addition, if your injuries have negatively impacted your marriage, your spouse can bring a lawsuit for “loss of consortium,” which compensates him or her for loss of companionship, love, guidance, and sexual intimacy.

Because every case is different, the amount of compensation you can receive will depend on the circumstances of your case, including the severity of your injuries and what kind of malpractice insurance the defendant carries. At Dolman Law Group, we can carefully assess these circumstances to identify how much compensation is available for your injuries and develop a legal strategy to maximize your recovery.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

At Dolman Law Group, we understand that injured patients need to focus on their recovery. Our clients do not have the time to gather all of the evidence necessary to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. Nevertheless, you cannot win a malpractice case without evidence, which takes time and skill to correctly gather. At Dolman Law Group, we can find the following:

  • We can ask the medical professional questions under oath about what happened.
  • We can assess your medical records to find evidence of medical errors.
  • We can help you fully document your injuries.
  • We can consult with expert witnesses to identify whether your doctor failed to satisfy the proper standard of care.

Call the Clearwater, Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Dolman Law Group

Avoid delay. You only have two years from the date of your injury to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. For a free consultation, call 727-451-6900 or fill out our contact form.

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

What Happens if You Can’t Pay Your Medical Bills

The cost of healthcare continues to rise, vastly outpacing the rate of inflation. For this reason, it isn’t surprising that people who end up in the hospital or a doctor’s waiting room frequently have trouble paying their bills, especially when they have no health insurance.

Nevertheless, you do have options. Follow these tips for handling sky-high medical bills so that you can relieve stress and focus on recovering your health.

Find Mistakes on the Bill

Many medical bills have errors on them, so you should carefully scrutinize each item on the bill. Make sure that each service or item on the bill isn’t there by mistake. For example, many patients are wrongly charged for the following:

  • Medication they didn’t receive
  • Supplies that weren’t provided
  • Treatments that weren’t ordered
  • Meals that were not served

There may also be duplicate charges on the bill for a single procedure, such as being double-billed for an MRI or X-ray. Sometimes, patients need to have a test or procedure done twice because the technician made a mistake, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it.

You can dispute mistakes with the medical provider by writing a letter. Identify each item that you believe appears on the bill by mistake and ask the provider to remove it. Remember to include a copy of your bill (not the original) and highlight whichever service or item you believe has been included in error.

Check if You Qualify for Assistance Programs

Many assistance programs exist for low-income patients to help them with medical expenses. These programs will compare your income to the federal poverty rate to see whether you qualify. For example, you might qualify for:

  • Government assistance
  • Charitable assistance
  • Help from the hospital itself

To find out more about what programs are available and their eligibility requirements, you can ask the hospital’s patient liaison, if there is one. Alternately, you can search online. Visit this government website for information on how to handle medical bills.

The application process for each program is different, but most will want information on your current income and expenses, so find the following information and documentation:

  • Recent pay stubs or proof of self-employment income
  • Bills for fixed expenses like rent/mortgage and car payments
  • Recent bank statements that show how much you have saved, if anything

Keep this information handy since it can speed up the application process and reduce the number of errors you make. After submitting your application, always ask how long it will take before you hear back about a decision and call if you haven’t heard anything.

Negotiate With the Medical Provider

Doctors and other healthcare providers are running a business, so don’t be afraid to negotiate with them. If you don’t pay your bill, they will send the account to collections, but they probably would prefer that you pay at least some of the bill and spare them the hassle. For this reason, some doctors might be open to accepting less than the full amount charged.

Before negotiating, figure out how much you can afford to pay each month and how much money you currently have available. Create a budget and eliminate any unnecessary expenses that you can live without. Identify how much money is left over that you can contribute to your debt.

Begin negotiating by calling the provider’s billing department and acknowledging that you have received the bills. Explain briefly why you can’t pay. For example, your illness might prevent you from returning to work or you or your spouse might have lost a job. Be prepared to back up your claims with documented proof, such as a termination notice.

After explaining your financial difficulties, tell the billing department how much you can afford to pay each month. They might be willing to put you on a payment plan, preferably one that is interest-free. If you have a lump sum of money—say, 80% of your medical bill—they also might be willing to accept that amount and write off the rest. Remember that it never hurts to ask, and most hospitals have dealt with financially-distressed patients before, so they should have processes in place for considering your request.

Avoid Paying With a Credit Card

Some healthcare providers might recommend you pay with a credit card. That is a great deal for them, because they get paid and then your credit card issuer gets to deal with your inability to pay off the bill. However, you should carefully weigh whether this is a good idea in your situation. In particular, credit cards might charge more in interest than a hospital or doctor, so it probably does not make financial sense.

Negotiate With the Collection Agency

If your medical debt gets sold to a collection agency, you have another opportunity to negotiate. Just as you did with the medical provider’s billing department, explain your financial situation and identify how much you can afford each month. The collection agency might not care, and they might threaten to sue you, but realize you have options (such as bankruptcy).

Consider Bankruptcy

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can discharge unsecured debts, such as medical debt. You can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you meet the income test. From start to finish, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes a few months. Although your credit score will be damaged, you can obtain a fresh financial start and swiftly begin building your credit back up.

Speak with a Clearwater, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer

Depending on the circumstances, you might be able to bring a lawsuit and recover costs of your injuries if someone else’s negligence caused contributed to your injuries. At Dolman Law Group, we help clients injured in car accidents, trucking accidents, slip and falls, and medical negligence cases. Our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers will fight for compensation to pay for medical expenses and replace lost wages. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900 or filling out our contact form.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Dog Bites Are often Avoidable, but Victims are Generally Entitled to Compensation

It is rare that a serious dog bite is the first sign of aggression a dog owner has seen from his or her pet. Further, many dog bites result from provocation by children who assume all dogs are friendly. This is not always the case, and education about dog ownership and dog interaction can help prevent many dog bite injuries. However, dog owners are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their pets. Even if the behavior is unexpected or the dog was provoked, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Florida Dog Bite Statistics and Risk Factors

According to the Florida Department of Health, the following statistics are applicable to dog bite injuries in Florida:

  • Boys between the ages of one and nine are at the highest risk for dog bite injuries, and they are also most likely to be bitten on the head or neck. 
  • Almost 90% of dog bites involving children happened from dogs known to the family or family-owned dogs. Random dog bites are rare. 
  • Many young children are bitten while unsupervised. 
  • Many dog bite injuries occurred in adults because they were trying to break up a dog fight. 
  • The most common dog bite injuries were those caused by inappropriate interaction with dogs, such as trying to interact while the dog is eating, chewing, or roughhousing.
  • The second most common cause of a dog bite was protective behavior, which is when the dog feels threatened or the dog feels his owner is being threatened. 

Just based on these statistics, many dog bites are avoidable with education and supervision. If children understand that they should not interact with a certain dog while he is eating or playing with his toy, they are less likely to suffering a dog bite, and if the children are being supervised, a guardian is there to direct their behavior as to how they should and should not interact with a dog. Further, choosing not to break up a dog fight unless you are trained can also prevent many Florida dog bite injuries.

Avoiding Dog Bites for Owners and Victims

A dog owner can help head off potential dog bite injuries by making sure any dog she takes home is kid tested and friendly, is spayed or neutered if it has any aggression issues, is not encouraged to play aggressively, is kept on a leash, and is trained in obedience. While some breeds of dogs are very friendly and may be safe to have off lease under normal circumstances, there is no telling what even a friendly dog may do if he is injured, provoked, or feels he is protecting you.

If you are not the dog owner but rather someone trying to prevent potential injuries, Florida recommends doing the following:

  • Always supervise children 
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog
  • Do not run or scream around a dog
  • Do not look a dog in the eyes
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies

If a dog is acting strangely or there is a dog in your neighborhood that is constantly staining on its leash to get to a person or animal, snapping, barking, let off lease, or seems to be ill, be sure to report the dog and owner to local authorities. Even if the dog has not been violent towards anyone, these are warning signs, and local authorities may be able to give owners tips about keeping the neighborhood safe.

Florida Dog Bite Law

If you have been the victim of a dog bite, you are generally entitled to compensation in Florida. There are two types of “dog bite” laws in the United States. The first type of law is a “one free bite” law, which means that the owner of a dog who has never shown any “vicious propensities” but bites you may not be held liable for the dog’s first bite. The second type of dog bite law, which is the law in Florida, does not have this barrier, and a dog owner is liable for any injury done by his or her dog to another regardless of whether the dog had shown vicious tendencies in the past.

There are, however, some barriers and exceptions to liability. Firstly, a dog owner is only liable if you or your child was bitten on either public property or private property when you were legally permitted on the premises. So if a dog bites you in a dog park, then the owner is liable, but if your child wanders into the neighbor’s yard without permission and gets bitten by the guard dog, then your neighbors generally would not be liable for the injuries caused. There is an exception, however, if the owner places a “bad dog” sign on the property and has the dog properly fenced in or leashed so that it cannot interact with guests on the property. In this case, the owner would not be liable for a dog bite on private property, but this exception does not apply to those under the age of six or if the owner was negligent in protecting guests from the dog.

Further, Florida law takes into consideration any negligence on the part of the person who was bitten in determining how liability should be apportioned. Accordingly, if the dog was provoked to bite because your child was acting aggressively towards the dog, stealing his toys, or pulling his tail, then you may be considered partially liable for provoking him. As an example, if the child walks up to an otherwise friendly dog from behind, jumps on him, and hurts him, and the dog bites the child in response, it is not likely that the dog owner would be held substantially liable for this incident.

Common Dog Bite Injuries and Illnesses

The most common dog bite injuries are flesh wounds to the arms and legs, and such wounds can cause severe scarring, tendon, and nerve damage. The most serious injuries result if someone is “mauled,” meaning that he or she was bitten multiple times during an extensive dog attack, as opposed to enduring a single “protective bite” from an otherwise unaggressive animal. However, either way, such a bite can result in serious infection, as dogs carry a multitude of bacteria in their mouths. Such infections and viruses include rabies, which is transmitted from dogs to humans through saliva and can be fatal in many cases as it can quickly reach the brain.

Contact a Clearwater Dog Bite Attorney Today

If a Florida dog has injured you or a loved one, it is important to contact a Florida dog bite lawyers in your area today. The Dolman Law Group has the experience you need to analyze your Florida dog bite case to determine the extent of liability. Let them get you the compensation you deserve after a traumatic dog bite. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation.

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


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Obtaining Compensation from FDOT after a Road Hazard Accident Can Be Challenging

We’ve all been frustrated by messy but often necessary road construction projects, which can leave hazards in their wake. Further, many of us have likely felt like we were in a video game trying to avoid dangerous road hazards on a high-speed roadway. Road hazard accidents are complex because the question often becomes who is liable if you must swerve to avoid a road hazard and hit another car because there was nowhere else to go? What if you were in the vehicle that was hit by someone trying to avoid a road hazard or the other driver hit the hazard and spun out of control?

Negligence and Car Accident Law

If you suffered personal injuries and the fault was not your own, whether stemming from a car accident, medical malpractice, or a slip and fall, your right to recover monetary compensation for your injuries is based on an old legal principle called “negligence.” This means that someone other than you failed to behave according to ordinary safety standards that others in a similar situation would have generally adhered to. In order to recover compensation against another driver, your Florida personal injury attorney needs to prove the following four elements: 

  • Duty: The driver had a duty to drive safely on a public road. This is normally not contested unless you were trespassing on a private roadway where no duty was owed; 
  • Breach: the driver failed to drive as an ordinarily safe driver would in the same circumstance; 
  • Causation: You were injured as a direct result of the driver’s breach of his duty; and 
  • Damages: As a result of the driver’s breach, you sustained compensable damage such as medical bills. For example, if you were driving someone else’s car and only the car was damaged as the result of an accident, then you likely don’t have a claim for negligence, only the owner of the car that sustained the damage. 
There is also another type of negligence called negligence per se, which is when the court will automatically find that a driver was negligent if she broke the law and that caused your accident. For example, if a driver was texting and you were rear-ended because of her inattention, then this is negligence per se. If, however, you were rear-ended and later notice that the driver’s brake lights were broken, even though this is a violation of Florida law, you can’t claim negligence per se because the broken brake lights did not contribute to causing your accident.

Road Hazards and Negligence

When it comes to road hazard accidents, it is often difficult to determine liability. For example, it is very difficult to determine where the hazard came from unless it is clearly marked. It is also difficult to prove “duty” sometimes when almost all drivers would have had to swerve to avoid the hazard. Even defeating one element of negligence defeats the whole case. But if your injuries were not your fault and your no-fault insurance is not sufficient to cover them, what can you do? Is the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) responsible for road hazards that cause injury? Sometimes it is. If FDOT was informed of the hazard and did not take action to remove it in a timely manner, because it is responsible for maintaining the roads, you may have a claim.

FDOT may also be liable for your injuries if they or one of their contractors created the hazard, for example, a hazard as the result of road construction. You can make a claim against FDOT for personal injuries or property damage, but it is difficult to recover and nearly impossible to do so without the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Further, you must exhaust certain administrative remedies with FDOT before you can file a case against them, which makes getting compensation a longer, more difficult process.

Limitations on Recovery from FDOT

Because FDOT is a government organization, there are old principles of “sovereign immunity” that apply, which mean you can only recover compensation from FDOT to the extent that the law allows. When it comes to actions for negligence, Florida has waived sovereign immunity as follows: “[t]he state and its agencies and subdivisions shall be liable for tort claims in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but liability shall not include punitive damages or interest for the period before judgment. Neither the state nor its agencies or subdivisions shall be liable to pay a claim or a judgment by any one person which exceeds the sum of $200,000.” In other words, if you choose to pursue a claim against FDOT, you can only recover for your actual economic damages, i.e., medical bills and lost wages, up to $200,000, which is very little if you’ve been involved in a catastrophic accident. Further, even if FDOT created the hazard, ignored it, and it was extremely dangerous, you can’t get damages from them because of such extreme negligence as punishment. These are called “punitive damages,” and they are not available against FDOT.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorney Today

Car accidents and personal injuries caused by hazards are extremely dangerous, especially on high-speed roadways. If you suffered from catastrophic injuries as a result, you may not have any options other than to make a claim against FDOT. A Florida personal injury and car accident attorney can help you determine what the best way to seek compensation is, including a claim against your insurance, another driver, a contractor, or FDOT. Despite the difficulties that come with making a claim against FDOT, the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have the personal injury lawyers you need in the greater Tampa Bay area to fight for your right to compensation through every avenue after a serious car accident has changed your life. Call them today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your road hazard car accident or contact them online.

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