Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Possible Outcomes of a Personal Injury Case

If you suffer an injury as the result of someone else’s actions or negligence, you may find yourself in the position to seek financial compensation for physical, financial, and/or emotional damages.
Tort law exists exactly for this reason: so that those who are responsible pay for their damages, and so that those who are not responsible aren’t stuck with the bills and burden. Most injury victims will already have to live from some time, or even the rest of their lives, with an injury or disability. They shouldn’t also have to pay the costs.
A personal injury claim allows a person who’s been injured by someone else’s negligence (called the plaintiff) to seek compensation for their injury from those who are at fault or hold legal responsibility (called the defendant).
If you have recently been injured in an auto accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, because of a defective product, or otherwise because of someone’s negligence, you may find yourself wondering about what might happen.
This article will seek to explain some of the different types of outcomes a personal injury case may have and what possible compensation someone could expect to receive from each decision.
The plaintiff drops their case
It is possible that a person who has been injured may decide to drop the case before it ever begins or midway through. Despite the reasons someone may have for doing this, it is a possible outcome that should be listed here for completeness.
If the plaintiff does decide to drop the case, they can expect:
  • That they will not be compensated, since this obviously provides no opportunity to claim damages from the injury.
  • The plaintiff will still have to compensate their attorney for any costs and time they have spent on the case up to that point. Depending on the agreement, there is a chance that no payment will be expected.
  • The defendant may seek compensation from the plaintiff for the time and money that they have already begun to invest in defending themselves or their client.
  • The plaintiff may not be able to change their mind and refile the case. This is dependent on the statute of limitations for that area of the law and if the case was dismissed without prejudice.

The case is settled before trial
Most personal injury claims will never go before a court for a trial. Some scholars have suggested that as high as 95% of cases are settled out of court, but that is dependent on the type of case and place. For the most part, it is safe to assume that a high percentage of personal injury cases are settled through some sort of negotiation.
A settlement is a formal contract between the plaintiff and the defendant in which the plaintiff agrees to

drop the lawsuit in exchange for monetary compensation. Once a settlement is agreed on, it is then taken to a judge to make it bound by law.
No two settlements are alike. When attorneys advertise that they got a certain person a large sum of money, they are trying to deceive potential clients into thinking that could be them. Even the exact same injury that occurred in a very similar manner under very similar circumstances could have very different outcomes. There are many variables.
Personal injury cases are often negotiated through something called, mediation. This is where you and your attorney sit down with the opposing attorney to try and work out a deal. For more details on mediation, read this thorough blog post.
If a case does settle, it is likely that the plaintiff will receive some combination of the following:
  • Compensation for medical bills (past, present, and future).
  • Compensation for lost wages, if the injured was prevented from working. This would also cover future lost wages if the injured is not be able to work, or work at the same level, in the future.
  • Compensation for physical damages, like those to a vehicle or other property.
  • Compensation for pain and suffering and any emotional distress that may have occurred

Regardless of the statistics, settlement is a very common outcome for someone who has a legitimate case. It is easier and less expensive for all parties involved, including the defendant, plaintiff, and courts.
The injured party wins at trial
If a settlement cannot be reached, than the case will likely go to trial. It is at this point that a judge, or more likely a jury, will hear the facts and make a ruling in the outcome of the case. When the plaintiff wins their court case, they will be compensated for their injuries and damages.
This compensation will cover the same things that a settlement would cover (listed above).
If there is more to the case than just a matter of personal compensation, like medical malpractice or defective medication, those held responsible may face fines, penalties, or loss of license, among a host of other possible outcomes.
The defendant wins at trial
If the plaintiff loses and the defendant wins at trial, the injured party will not be compensated for their injuries. If this is the case, they will be responsible for paying the taxable costs of the defendant. These costs may include:
  • Any court filing fees (costs that a court charges to deal with paperwork)
  • Fees for service of process (getting the case started with the parties and court)
  • Witness fees (costs for processing a witness, like taking a deposition)
  • Attorneys' fees (including and up to those allowed by law)

The trial verdict is appealed

Whether the case is ruled in favor of the plaintiff or in favor of the defendant, either party has the right to appeal the decision within thirty (30) days of the ruling.
During this point, it is up to the party who is appealing to prove to the appellate court that something was wrong with the original court case. It is not, in effect, a redo. The appellate court will then decide to uphold the verdict or turn over the ruling. In the rare cases that verdict is over turned, it is back to square one for both parties to try and reach a settlement.
Dolman Law Group
If you have been physically injured as a result of someone’s negligence or actions, the advice and representation of a Clearwater injury attorney will help you to navigate the array of legal issues and proceedings that will likely surface. Dolman Law Group is a plaintiff law firm that focuses solely on personal injury law.
We have seen first-hand the devastating consequences an injury or accident can have on innocent victims and their families.
Our attorneys have significant experience in handling complicated car accident and medical injury claims while recovering compensation for Tampa Bay injury victims. If you are injured, do not go at it alone, you can be sure the insurance company will be consulting with lawyers and should be too.
We look forward to helping you. Contact us at (724) 451-6900 for a no-cost consultation.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Burn Victims May Be Entitled To Compensation

Burns are a very common injury in the United States. The American Burn Association (ABA) estimates that approximately a half-million people are treated for burn injuries each year [1]. Of those total injuries, almost 40,000 require the burn victim to be admitted to either a hospital or burn center [2].
Similarly, 3,275 people died from fire and/or smoke inhalation in the same annual period in 2015 [3]. This number includes 2,745 deaths from residential home fires, 310 from fires caused by automobile crashes, and 220 from other sources (non- residential or automobile).
This statistic may sound high, or it may sound low, but the per-hour figure is still quite startling. One death occurs from a civilian fire every 2 hours and 41 minutes. The odds of a U.S. resident dying from exposure to fire, flames or smoke is 1 in 1442. That makes dying from smoke inhalation twice as likely as choking to death; and almost 10 times more likely than dying from a dog attack [4].
Fire deaths and inhalation deaths are combined into one statistic because deaths from thermal fire burns cannot always be distinguished from deaths due to the inhalation of toxic smoke.
What are burns?
Burns are one of the most common household injuries, especially among children. The term burn references more than just the burning sensation that most people associate with the injury. Burns are actually a physical event that are characterized by severe skin damage causing the affected skin cells to die.
Most people recover from burns without serious lasting health issues, depending on the cause and severity of the injury. More serious burns require immediate emergency medical care to prevent complications, serious debilitation, and even death [5].
Degrees of Burns
Burns are classified into different levels in order for medical practitioners—and other institutions like courts and insurance companies—to discern the severity of the injury. For the most part, burn injury degrees reference the depth of the burn into the layers of skin, but can also help to understand pain level, appearance, healing time, and scarring.
>      1st degree: First degree burns are considered superficial and only extends into the top of the skin (more accurately called the epidermis).
o   Skin is usually red and quite painful
o   Think: minor sunburn without blisters
o   Usually dry in appearance
o   Hospitalization is usually just for pain and not damage
o   Healing occurs in 3-5 days, as old skin peals away to reveal new skin

>      2nd degree: Second degree burns go beneath the top layer of skin and into the second layer (called the dermis). Blisters form as fluid builds up underneath the dead layer of epidermis. Second degree burns are divided into two categories based on depth:
Partial thickness
o   Blisters are normally visible
o   Involves both the epidermis and the dermis
o   Wound will be pink to red in color
o   Usually quite painful and appears wet
o   Should heal in 1 to 3 weeks without grafting, scarring is usually minimal
Full Thickness
o   Red or white in appearance, but will appear dry.
o   Destroys the entire epidermis and most of the dermis
o   Patient may have some sensation, but it’s diminished
o   Most likely needs excision and skin grafting to heal

>      3rd degree: Third degree burns extend completely through the dermis (second layer). These burns appear and may or may not have blisters. A third degree burn needs specialized treatment by a burn specialist. These burns may require surgery.
o   All layers of the epidermis and dermis are destroyed
o   Extends into the tissue under the skin
o   Areas can appear white, brown, cherry red, or black and will be dry
o   Can appear leathery in texture
o   No pain (which may be counterintuitive, but all the nerves that feel pain have been destroyed)

>      4th degree: Fourth degree burns are rarely used by the non-medical public, but it is very much a real medical term. Fourth degree burns involve mutilation that extends into the muscle and bone.
Causes of Serious Burn Injuries
Individuals may sustain burn injuries for a variety of different reasons, from a multitude of different sources. These reasons can be the result of an accident, negligence, or a defective product. There are several different agents that cause burns, such as, fire, heat, chemicals, electricity, or friction. Some of the more common causes of burns include:
>      Fires in a home, like a devastating house fire or even a simple candle.
>      Vehicle fires, often caused by damaged or defective parts.
>      Household chemicals such as cleaning agents or acids
>      Electric burns, commonly caused by defective household products
>      Fireworks, from misuse or defective assembly
>      Radiation, most commonly from sun exposure or tanning beds
>      Boiling or very hot liquids causing scalding, like boiling water or coffee
The most common cause of burns is from a fire or an open flame. The ABA estimates that fires/flames account for 43 percent of all burns [7].
Receiving Compensation for Your Burns
Burns can range anywhere between: a minor inconvenience from spending a little too long in the sun; to severe, debilitating damage to the whole body that will cause a lifetime of suffering. Burn victims who sustain their injuries as a result of someone else's negligence or a defective product, may be able to receive compensation. Holding those who are responsible for the damage is a perfectly logical step in the rebuilding process. Some of the common damages for which burn victims may recover include:
>      Medical Expenses
Burn victims are often required to seek medical attention, depending upon the severity of the burn they suffer. Burns not only affect the layers of skin (epidermis and dermis), but also the nerves, muscles, and even bones. Hospitalization may be necessary in order to help care for the burns and any potential complications that may arise in the affected areas. Third degree burns are often most at risk for complications, such as infections, blood loss, and shock, which are often the symptoms that could lead to death  
Depending on the cause of the burn(s), the victim may suffer collateral injuries such as smoke inhalation or poisoning. The extent of damage caused by the burn may also require that a burn victim enter rehabilitation in order to regain mobility and strengthen the affected areas.
The severity of burns can also leave the victim with physical deformities and outward reminders of the trauma. Reconstruction procedures, such as cosmetic surgery and skin grafting, may be necessary to restore some “normalcy” to the victim’s appearance. This is also important in order to help quell any psychological issues, which may be the result of the physical deformities caused by the burns. These procedures, hospital stays, and rehabilitative services are not cheap, and can add up fast.
>      Loss of Income
Hospitalization is expensive, not only because of the high costs of the stay itself. The expense of hospitalization can also extend to an individual’s inability to earn income. Serious burn victims who require hospitalization, may lose income as a result of their inability to work, run a small business, or pursue new clients while hospitalized. The severity of the burn can also result in a permanent disability. This may impair the victim’s ability to work and earn the same, or comparable, amount of income as before the injury. Thus, it is important to consider the implications of both current and future loss of income, meaning what income you may lose while in recovery, and also the income you may lose from not being able to work in the same career field or for the same company after recovery.
>      Pain and Suffering
Burns are often both physically and psychologically painful. Although many recover from the pain of their burns, it is possible to continue to feel pain in the affected area(s) for extended periods of time. This is often a result of nerve damage that goes beyond the initial pain while the injury is fresh.
Additionally, many burn victims may find themselves dealing with the emotional trauma caused by the burn. If the burn is in a conspicuous place, like on the face or neck, hand or arms, or anywhere that is often visible, victims may suffer emotional and psychological pain from the embarrassment, constant reminder of the trauma, or social rejection.
>      Punitive Damages
Depending on the cause of the victim’s burn, a court may require the offending party to pay additional damages, called punitive damages. This additional payout is awarded to help discourage the offender and others from repeating the act which caused the victim’s burns. This money is used to both deter similar, future behavior and punish the person who caused the injury.  This may be the case if the burns are due to arson, a drunk driving accident, or defective products the company was aware of.
Contact an Attorney
If you have been burned in a way that could have been prevented or from someone else’s negligence, you should contact an attorney to evaluate your case. Burns are serious injuries that may cause long-lasting or permanent injuries. You may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We at the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida work tirelessly and zealously to advocate on behalf of our clients. We will evaluate your case for free in order to ensure that we can aggressively pursue all available claims, so that you will recover every compensation you deserve. Call us today at 727-451-6900 and schedule a free consultation.

2.     Ibid.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

John Deere Recalls Garden Tractors Due To Dangerous Failures

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