Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fourteen (14) Day Rule In Personal Injury Protection (PIP); Why It Is So Important To Get Checked Out After a Crash

The law that controls the 14 day rule in PIP is Florida Statute 627.736, also known more widely as, the Florida No-Fault Statute. It reads;
627.736 Required personal injury protection benefits; exclusions; priority; claims.—
(1) REQUIRED BENEFITS.—An insurance policy complying with the security requirements of s. 627.733 must provide personal injury protection to the named insured, relatives residing in the same household, persons operating the insured motor vehicle, passengers in the motor vehicle, and other persons struck by the motor vehicle and suffering bodily injury while not an occupant of a self-propelled vehicle, subject to subsection (2) and paragraph (4)(e), to a limit of $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle as follows:
(a) Medical benefits.—Eighty percent of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices and medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services if the individual receives initial services and care pursuant to subparagraph 1. within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident. The medical benefits provide reimbursement only for:

Why is it important to be seen within 14 days?

If you are injured in a crash and do not have initial services and care provided to you, you are barred from using your PIP coverage. Meaning if you are hit by a vehicle, believe you are ok, and then one the 15th day you go to a doctor because your back started hurting and it was the first day available, the doctor will not be able to bill your PIP insurer for the bill. No matter how badly you are hurt, you will be barred from the $10,000 in PIP coverage under your policy.

Who can I see for initial services and care?

            At this point you may be asking yourself, “Do I have to go to the emergency room after every crash?” The simple answer is NO. Under the No-Fault Act (Fla. Stat. 627.736(1)(a)(1) it states:

1. Initial services and care that are lawfully provided, supervised, ordered, or prescribed by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, a dentist licensed under chapter 466, or a chiropractic physician licensed under chapter 460 or that are provided in a hospital or in a facility that owns, or is wholly owned by, a hospital. Initial services and care may also be provided by a person or entity licensed under part III of chapter 401 which provides emergency transportation and treatment.

You can receive initial services and care from:
1.     Physician.
2.     Dentist
3.     Chiropractor
4.     Services rendered in a hospital.
5.     A person who provides emergency transportation and treatment (EMT/Paramedic).

The important part is that you see one of these five (5) categories within the first 14 days of the crash.  My recommendation would be to err on the side of caution. Every person’s body is different and reacts to trauma differently.

If you are in a car crash the easiest thing to do is to ask the officer or paramedic who comes to the scene to be seen by a paramedic or EMT. They can provide initial services and care at the scene of the accident and meet the 14 day rule. Make sure to get a copy of the report they create for your records and give that to your attorney as well as any medical providers you see after.

Will I have to pay for the initial services and care at the scene of the accident, hospital or chiropractors office?

As long as you are seen within 14 days of the accident your medical provider will bill your PIP insurance and the bills should be reimbursed to the doctor’s office in a timely fashion.

If you have been in a car crash and need legal advice, please reach out to a team of experienced legal professionals like the Dolman Law Group. We have big firm results, but small firm attention. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 3375

727) 451-6900

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fatal Motorcycle Accident In Dunedin, Florida

On Saturday, January 30, 2016, a collision occurred at approximately 9:23 p.m. in the area of County Road 1 and Burnham Lane in Dunedin, Florida.  First responders arrived on scene to find a 38-year-old man seriously injured after being ejected from his 2005 Honda VT Motorcycle in a vehicle crash. 

Bayflite was immediately requested to rapidly transport the victim to a local trauma center due to the extent of his injuries.  According to Cristen Smith, Public Information Officer at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the motorcycle rider later died[1] from his injuries at the hospital.

According to investigators, the 40-year-old Clearwater driver of a 2004 Dodge Durango was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of County Road 1 when he hit a motorcyclist head on.  The investigators also reported that the motorcycle rider was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.  The vehicle driver showed signs of impairment and was subsequently arrested and charged with one count of DUI Manslaughter.
Clearwater Motorcycle Statistics

The Florida Highway Safety[2] and Motor Vehicles provides that in 2013 there were 444 driver motorcycle fatalities.  Of those 444 fatalities, 204 drivers were not wearing helmets.  The department also provides that in 2013 there were 5,734 crashes statewide where alcohol was confirmed to be the cause or a contributing factor. 

Florida Helmet Law

The law in Florida[3] provides as follows:

a person over 21 years of age may operate or ride upon a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear securely fastened upon his or her head if such person is covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.”

While about half of states have such a partial helmet law, Florida and Michigan are the only states to require medical coverage.  Although the law does not require motorcycle riders over the age of 21 to wear a helmet, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [4] Highway Loss Data Institute provides that “because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.”

In 2000, Florida repealed its helmet law. In the 30-months after repeal, the number of riders under 21 who were killed, despite being legally required to wear a helmet, nearly tripled, from 35 to 101, according to the Centers for Disease Control [5] and Prevention. During that time, hospitalizations increased by 40 percent, and the cost of treating associated head injuries more than doubled, to $44 million.

According to the Hurt Report, a seminal study of motorcycle collisions completed in 1981, use of a helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention or reduction of head injury. Helmeted riders and passengers had significantly fewer and less serious head and neck injuries.  Additionally, the Hurt Report found no meaningful reduction in traffic sounds, pre-crash visual field, loss of attention or other accident causation related to helmet use. Nor was there any discernable increase in the risk of lower head or neck injuries as a result of helmet use.

Pinellas County Motorcycle Licensing

Motorcycle drivers in Florida must obtain either a motorcycle endorsement on the current driver’s license or a motorcycle-only license in order to operate a motorcycle whose engine is larger than 50 cc. Florida requires motorcycle drivers under the age of 21 to complete a motorcycle safety course before obtaining either the endorsement or the motorcycle license. If a driver is at or over age 21, he or she may opt to take the knowledge and skills test in lieu of the safety course. Though insurance is not required to register motorcycles in Florida, motorcyclists who are involved in an accident in the Sunshine State are liable for property damage and bodily injury incurred during the accident. They must also purchase personal injury insurance in order to keep their motorcycle endorsement and prevent tag suspension on their motorcycle.

Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, it is important to speak to a Clearwater motorcycle accident attorney.  At the Dolman Law Group, our skilled motorcycle accident attorneys investigate your case and protect your rights under Florida law to make sure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.  Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.

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



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Vehicle Driver Dies In Clearwater Collision Involving Two School Buses

On December 17, 2015, a driver involved in a Clearwater crash[1] with a school bus at Missouri Avenue and Lotus Path died as a result of their injuries.  The crash happened around 7 a.m. as two school buses were heading south on Missouri.   The second bus stopped behind the first, and a 92-year-old man driving a Mini Cooper, ran into the back of the second bus.  The driver of the vehicle was taken to Morton Plant Hospital, where he later died. There were no students on the second bus.  The bus driver, who was not injured, had completed her high school run for the morning and was en route to pick up elementary school students.

Pinellas County School Bus Accidents

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 19,000 Americans are injured [2] in bus accidents in the United States every year. About 100 buses a year are involved in a fatal accident, often involving more than one fatality and many injuries. The US states of California, New York and Florida have the most bus accidents each year.  Further, school buses account for 39% of all bus fatalities. 

Injuries sustained in bus accidents are often more severe than those caused by other vehicular accidents. A lack of on board safety measures, such as seatbelts, can put riders at risk for serious injuries.  Florida only requires that public school buses have safety belts, but the law only applies to buses purchased brand new after December 30, 2001. Older school buses, or those used for private schools or church outings are exempt from the law.

Claims Against School Buses

Since school buses are typically operated by a school district, or by a company contracted to a school district, a claimant must go through several steps in order to pursue a claim. The doctrine of sovereign immunity normally prevents a person from suing a government agency, but governments make exceptions for certain types of claims. The Florida Tort Claims Act allows claims against government entities, including school districts, although it sets strict time limits and deadlines for filing claims, and it sets a cap on damages.  It is important to speak to a Clearwater school bus accident attorney to review these time limits and deadlines and determine how they apply to your case.

Florida School Bus Safety

The Florida Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles sets forth a listing of school bus safety[3] rules for all Florida drivers:

          When approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and its stop arms extended, motorists are required to STOP in nearly every instance. 

                Be alert and watch for children at all times, but especially near schools, bus stops, school buses, and in school parking lots.

                Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, paying extra attention to the lower speed limits in school zones.

                Do not pass other vehicles in school zones or at crosswalks. Do not change lanes or make U-turns in school zones.

                Watch for and obey signals from school crossing guards.

                Do not text or use a cell phone while driving.

                Only drive or park in authorized areas to drop off or pick up children at school.

Contact a Clearwater Accident Attorney

In some accidents involving a school bus, the accident may be caused by the driver of another car.  If the bus driver is at fault for an accident, however, the case may become complicated.  Most school buses are operated by governmental entities such as school districts and public transportation agencies.  Unfortunately, filing a claim against a governmental body can be more complicated that filing a more typical insurance claim.  Claims against Florida’s municipalities are often subject to stricter guidelines, including shorter time limits for taking legal action, and can present complications for individuals who are not familiar with the intricacies of the claims process.

If you or a loved one were injured in a collision involving a bus, either as a passenger on board or as a third party, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.  It is important to speak to a Clearwater accident attorney as soon as possible. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today for a free consultation.

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


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pinellas County Driver Killed In Single Vehicle Crash

On January 19, 2016, a 43-year-old resident[1] of St. Petersburg was driving a 2004 Infinity FX35 westbound on 18th Avenue South at approximately 3:35 a.m.  The driver was approaching 49th Street South at a high rate of speed when he crossed over 49th Street, failing to stop at the stop sign and driving over the sidewalk onto the grass on the west side of 49th Street, along Tangerine Avenue.  The vehicle continued through the grass and struck a tree causing the vehicle to overturn and causing fatal injuries to the driver. 

Clearwater Single Vehicle Accidents

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute provides that there were 2,228 fatal crashes in the State of Florida in 2013, resulting in 2,407 deaths.  Of those, 1,362 involved single-vehicle accidents[2].  The driver in a single-vehicle accident is oftentimes at fault based upon any number of factors including:

           Distracted driving: Talking or texting on a cell phone, drinking, eating, or talking to passengers may cause a driver to veer off the road or hit an object

           Drowsy driving:  Falling asleep at the wheel can cause a driver to leave the roadway and crash.

           Excessive speed: A driver who exceeds the allowable speed limit and causes a crash can be held responsible for the injuries and damages that result.

           Weather: Poor weather conditions like rain, ice, snow and fog can all contribute to a single-vehicle accident.

When is a Clearwater Driver Not Liable in a Single-Vehicle Accident?

Even though a single vehicle accident involves only one automobile, there can be instances where the driver is not liable including:

           Bad road conditions:  If a driver loses control of their vehicle and hits a tree due to bad road conditions, the driver, or their family, may be able to make a claim against the governmental agency that is responsible for maintaining the road.   State and local government entities are responsible for properly inspecting and maintaining the roads to keep them safe for motorists. If a driver suddenly hits a pothole, crack, break in the pavement, uneven pavement, or other hazardous condition, they can lose control of their vehicle and crash.

           Equipment defect:  650 safety recalls[3] of 17.8 million motor vehicles, pieces of motor vehicle equipment and child safety seats occurred in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A driver in a single vehicle accident may avoid liability where there was a sudden equipment failure.  When an auto manufacturer sells a defective car part, that part can suddenly malfunction and cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Brakes, tires, axles, airbags, and steering systems are all examples of defects that can lead to single-car crashes.

           Road Construction: Construction zones are everywhere throughout Florida. Accidents in these areas may have been caused by lack of warning signs, improperly diverted traffic, poor placement of cones and barriers, or other problems. When collisions occur in a work zone or construction area, negligent construction companies may be held accountable.

           Road debris:  Debris tends to be a common occurrence on roadways, where car parts flying off vehicles, or loose cargo makes its way onto the roadway. Dead road kill animals, trash, and other debris can create a significant road impediment and one that causes drivers to swerve their cars in an effort to avoid hitting objects in the road.

                       Second driver:  Drivers who are impaired or distracted may veer into your lane, cross the center line, or even cut you off, causing you to overcorrect or suddenly brake, which can lead to a collision.  Another type of interaction with a second driver could be caused by road rage, reckless driving, driving while under the influence, or through errors in judgment, such as going down the wrong side of a one-way street. 

Contact a Clearwater Single-Vehicle Accident Lawyer

After you have contacted the police and received any medical assistance that is required, you may want to consider contacting a single vehicle accident attorney to investigate your case.  At the Dolman Law Group, our skilled single vehicle accident attorneys investigate your case and protect your rights under Florida law to make sure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.  Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fatal Pedestrian Accident In Gulfport

On Wednesday, February 3, 2016, a 74-year-old pedestrian was struck[1] and killed by an 86-year-old driver.  The accident occurred at approximately 6:36 p.m. at a time when the pedestrian was crossing Gulfport Boulevard, east of Beach Boulevard, in Gulfport, Florida.  The driver was traveling eastbound at the time of the incident.

Florida Pedestrian Fatalities Double the National Average

Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Traffic Safety Facts reports, Florida had the highest pedestrian fatality rate[2] among all states in 2011, 2.60 pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 persons. Further, according to the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan, prepared by The Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of Southern Florida, the 2011 Florida pedestrian fatality rates were nearly double the national average. In Pinellas County alone there were 483 accidents[3] involving pedestrians resulting in the death of 36 individuals in 2015.  

Steps to Take After a Clearwater Pedestrian Accident

       Medical Attention:  If you or anyone else is injured, contact the police and request medical assistance.  It is crucial to receive proper medical attention as soon as possible after an accident.

       Claim Against the Driver:  If a pedestrian is hit by a vehicle, the driver is often times considered to be at fault, even if the pedestrian was not in a crosswalk. 

       Claim Against the Municipality:  Some vehicle-pedestrian accidents might be the fault of the city if there was a failure of traffic control devices such as stop lights.  

Pinellas County PIP Insurance

If a pedestrian involved in an accident owns a car and has Florida’s mandatory PIP insurance, their injuries and lost wages will be covered up to the sum of $10,000 dollars. If the pedestrian does not own a car, the driver’s PIP insurance will cover these expenses. Because pedestrian accidents can result in life-threatening injuries, it is possible that this insurance will not be sufficient to cover the total amount of your accident-related losses.

Florida Driver Negligence in Pedestrian Accidents

In some instances, a pedestrian injured by a vehicle driver can file a claim based on driver negligence.  It may be necessary to show the following:

                       The driver of the vehicle owed the pedestrian a duty of care.

                       The driver breached this duty, either by disregarding traffic laws, not          paying attention to their surroundings, or driving recklessly.

                       The pedestrian sustained a serious injury as a result of this breach.

A driver may be considered negligent for any of the following:

                Pre-occupation and failure to pay attention;

                Failure to observe the speed limit;

                Failure to yield the right of way at cross walks;

                Failure to use turn signals;

                Violating traffic laws, including neglecting to stop at light and stop signs; and

                Driving under the influence.

It is important to remember that Florida is a comparative negligence state so each party involved in the accident can be financially responsible for a percentage of the damage, depending on the degree to which they were at fault.  An automobile driver involved in a pedestrian accident may try to prove that the pedestrian was partially at fault for the accident to mitigate damages.  Negligence on part of the pedestrian may refer to any of the following:

-           Darting out in front of cars;

-           Failing to use dedicated cross walks;

-           Failing to see if it is safe to cross the street;

-           Ignoring pedestrian signals at intersections.

Florida Wrongful Death

If a pedestrian does not survive an accident, their family members may bring a claim on behalf of their loved one to recover compensation for damages. They will be required to prove the same elements as pedestrians pursuing a negligence claim on their own behalf. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney will help family members who choose to file a suit hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.

Clearwater Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one were injured in a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle, it is important to speak to a Clearwater pedestrian accident attorney as soon as possible.  At the Dolman Law Group, our skilled accident attorneys investigate your case and protect your rights under Florida law. Please call our office at 727-451-6900 today.

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