Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Can You Always File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

There are many ways to resolve a legal dispute. Arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution can lead to a faster (and more cost-effective) resolution. However, when these alternative methods don’t result in a satisfactory settlement, it is important that injury victims retain the right to file a lawsuit. This gives both sides incentive to negotiate fairly. It also protects the injury victim’s right to seek fair compensation through the court system. If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of auto accident, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Our experienced auto accident attorneys will fight hard to protect your right to file a lawsuit, make your case as strong as possible, and secure the compensation you deserve.

There are many legal barriers that can prevent a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit. Learn more about some of the more common problems and what injury victims can do to avoid them.

Statutes of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law which helps facilitate the timely filing of lawsuits by prohibiting claims from being filed after a specified length of time. Thus, injury victims can lose their right to compensation entirely if they do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations that applies to a particular case depends on the type of claim which is being filed. In Florida, a lawsuit based on negligence must be filed within four years from the time the plaintiff learns (or should have learned) of the negligent actions (see Florida Statutes Chapter 95.11(3)). Negligence actions cover a wide array of civil claims, including car accident cases, dog bite cases, premises liability for slip and fall cases, birth injuries, products liability, wrongful death, workplace injuries, and many more.

Binding Arbitration Agreements

An increasingly popular legal tool used by large companies is a binding arbitration agreement. Before a customer can purchase services, she must sign an agreement to submit any legal disputes to arbitration, rather than filing a lawsuit. Binding arbitration makes the arbitrator’s judgment final. The judgment generally cannot be appealed through the court system. Binding arbitration agreements are particularly common with service providers such as assisted living and nursing facilities, credit card companies, mobile service carriers, and other large companies that provide services directly to consumers. Insurance companies are largely restricted from using such arbitration agreements. Car accident victims, therefore, are usually not prohibited from filing a lawsuit on the basis of a binding arbitration agreement. Nonetheless, an injury victim may be impacted by an arbitration agreement with a medical provider, supplemental insurance carriers, vehicle repair shops, and other such service providers.

Notice of Claim Requirement

When a plaintiff has a legal claim against the State of Florida, he must present the claim in writing to the Department of Financial Services to preserve the right to file a lawsuit against the state. This requirement is separate from the statute of limitations. The notice of claim must usually be submitted prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes sets forth the requirements and deadlines for filing a notice of claim for actions against the state.

There are many ways a car accident injury victim may obtain a legal claim against the state. For example, the state may be liable for failing to maintain roads in safe conditions. The express lanes on the I-95 have been the subject of many such lawsuits. In general, these lawsuits allege that the state failed to adequately maintain the lanes and that this failure led to an unsafe condition that caused the car accident (and that in turn caused the victim’s injuries).

This is what happened to Cynthia Fleischmann, a motorcyclist who lost her leg after a particularly gruesome accident in the I-95 express lanes just south of 103rd Street. The Miami New Times reports that a Toyota Corolla plowed through a gap in the pylons separating the regular lanes from express lanes, attempting to quickly jump into the express lanes. Instead, it crashed into two motorcycles, which were both destroyed in the accident. Both motorcyclists sued the Florida Department of Transportation, alleging that it failed to properly maintain, repair and replace the divider pylons, which encouraged “lane diving” behavior such as that of the Corolla’s driver.

In a similar lawsuit, a pregnant woman suffered permanent injuries when another driver illegally crossed through the divider pylon in an attempt to quickly make the next exit. The express lane driver crashed into the pregnant driver, Stephanie Blossom, who then crashed into a retaining wall. Both Blossom and her baby survived, but she required several surgeries for leg injuries that will be permanent.

Express lanes have, in fact, become so dangerous and unpopular that one Florida state senator has proposed a ban on express lanes throughout the state. According to the Miami New Times, Sen. Frank Artiles claims that “express lanes are unsafe, inefficient, and add an unnecessary burden for all users.” This is supported by reports that the Florida Department of Transportation spends $1 million every year simply replacing worn divider pylons. Such costs consume all profits from the express lane tolls collected. Instead of being invested in useful community projects, the tolls simply pay to wage a futile battle against repairing the express lanes again and again.

The Right Attorneys for Your Auto Accident Claim

Auto accident victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and
around the Clearwater area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a difficult and critical time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will negotiate or litigate your case as necessary to protect your legal rights.

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


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ways to Resolve a Personal Injury Case

When someone is injured by the negligence of another, the victim has the legal right to be compensated by the person (or persons, or company) who caused the injuries. There are many different ways to ensure that injury victims receive the full and fair compensation to which they are entitled. If you or a loved one has sustained any sort of personal injury, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. We represent victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents, medical malpractice, boating accidents, slip and fall injuries, bad medications, dog bites, and many other types of injuries. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will work hard to find the right expert witnesses, make your case as strong as possible, and secure the compensation you deserve.

Learn more about the different options for resolving a personal injury case, the pros and cons of each, and why parties choose to resolve their cases outside of court.

The first step toward resolving a personal injury case is engaging in settlement negotiations. This starts by filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. The insurance company will then conduct an investigation of the accident. If it determines that the party they insure was, in fact, negligent, the insurance company will accept legal responsibility (“liability”) for the accident. If not, the plaintiff will have to file a lawsuit in order to convince a judge or jury that the defendant was negligent.

Once the insurance company determines that the person or company they insure was liable, they will begin to assess the value of the plaintiff’s claim. This valuation is a combination of the plaintiff’s medical bills, her pain and suffering, lost wages, and any other financial loss that is directly attributable to the defendant’s negligence. This can be an incredibly complex calculation. Pain and suffering, for example, varies greatly from person to person, and the nature of an injury or a person’s tolerance for pain can change the award dramatically. Despite these complexities, insurance companies will often attempt to simplify the calculation by performing a simple multiplication of medical bills to arrive at a valuation for pain and suffering. This hasty math cannot adequately account for the unique aspects of each individual case.

If the award proposed by the insurance company is acceptable (or if the parties can negotiate an acceptable amount), the case is settled. If the parties disagree over the appropriate amount of the plaintiff’s award, they must proceed to either alternative dispute resolution or litigation.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is becoming an increasingly common method of resolving legal disputes. Instead of conducting settlement negotiations themselves, the parties submit the case  

to mediation or arbitration. In mediation, a neutral third-party mediator helps the parties identify the issues in the case, and attempts to help them negotiate a settlement to settle the case. The mediator can either be appointed by the court or privately engaged by the parties. In arbitration, the parties each present their case to an arbitrator. The arbitrator then issues a decision about the case. The parties can usually appeal this decision to a court.

Alternative dispute resolution is a faster and more cost effective method of resolving legal disputes than traditional litigation. In particular, mediation allows the parties to maintain control of the case, and have more of a say in the outcome. Submitting a case to a jury is a risk that is not always wise. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics examined 2005 medical malpractice cases brought to trial and found that the plaintiff prevailed in less than 25% of these trials. The odds of a poor outcome at trial lead many medical malpractice victims to settle their cases outside of litigation.


Litigation is the traditional method of resolving a legal dispute. This is the process by which a plaintiff files a lawsuit against a defendant, submits the case to trial, and receives a judgment issued by a jury. The judgment can either be for the plaintiff, for the defendant, or partially in favor of each. The judgment can be submitted for appeal (although it is generally difficult to find adequate legal grounds for appealing a jury verdict).

There are many reasons why parties choose to resolve their disputes outside of litigation. First, and of greatest concern to injury victims, is the risk of losing. There is no guarantee that a jury will issue the judgment that a party thinks he is entitled to receiving. It is concerning that litigants are generally left to pay their own attorneys’ fees, court costs, and other litigation expenses. These are not insignificant. A trial of a single day results in thousands of dollars of attorneys fees in preparation alone. Second, even if a jury issues an award to a plaintiff, it generally takes longer for the plaintiff to see the funds. The initial delay in scheduling a trial often further delays the process by several months. Even once a judgment is issued, the defense can appeal it, or make a motion to reduce the award. And yet, even when litigation is not used to resolve a legal dispute, it is an important part of the settlement process. The reason insurance companies negotiate with injury victims is because they do not want lawsuits filed against their insured clients. The potential of litigation gives both parties the incentive to negotiate a settlement fairly and in good faith.

The Right Attorneys for Your Personal Injury Claim

Injury victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and around the Clearwater area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a critical and difficult time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will find the right expert witnesses in order to give you the strongest, most effective case possible.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Accidents Caused by Defective Parts: Determining Liability

defective parts cause accidents in Florida

Automobiles have become extremely complex machines. Modern motor vehicles have thousands of moving, interlocking parts which working in sync with software to control a continuous stream of explosions to propel you down the road. Billions of dollars and generations of brilliant individuals have all been spent to make your car as safe, reliable, and effective as possible.
And like all machines, sometimes your car breaks down. That’s just the fact of life. Even with careful maintenance, your sedan may decide one Monday morning that he’s not going to work today. That’s a fact all of us car owners have accepted. But what about when your car’s defection from normal operation is not normal? What about when the problem occurs due to steps taken before the odometer even ticked over its first mile?
Automobile manufacturers have the responsibility of making sure that their vehicles are installed with quality parts and assembled in compliance with Government safety standards. The automobile industry is quite profitable, but when companies cut corners lives are put at risk. A defective part may fail at any time. Cruising home from work in the rain, or flying off to vacation on the highway at 70 mph. Sometimes, the defect causes a problem at the most inopportune time. When breaks fail, or an airbag shoots shrapnel upon deployment, the results will be catastrophic.
Determining Liability

Unfortunately, in a majority of the cases these defects remain undiscovered until after the fatal accident take place. Just last year, a whopping 7 million vehicles were recalled across the US because they were equipped with defective inflator and propellant devices manufactured by a Japanese supplier of air bags, Takata. Since these parts were deployed improperly, they shot metal fragments into occupants, causing further injuries during a crash.
Once it became evident that Takata was at-fault, claims were made by injured parties. However, a vehicle parts manufacturer is not always liable for damages. Generally, a vehicle part defect causes harm to a person in two ways it can directly be the cause of an accident, like an engine failure or tire blowout, or it can aggravate the injuries during an accident, like malfunctioning seat belts or airbags.
In such cases, multiple parties can be held liable for bodily injuries and property damage. You can file a product liability lawsuit or personal injury claim against a part manufacturer, vehicle manufacturer, safety certification company, dealership, or even a mechanic shop that repaired or installed the defective part in your vehicle. It all depends on the evidence proving what happened, who was involved, and how they behaved.

This is easier said than done. The first step you can take is to do you research. Investigate the vehicle you are about to buy. Does it have numerous recalls? Does it have any after-market, or custom components? Insist on seeing the maintenance records and confirm who installed the parts, and what brands of parts were used.
The next step is to keep maintenance records for yourself. Folder, binder, or scanned to your computer…really however you prefer so long as it’s thorough. It is important to keep a detailed record of the work done on your vehicle. These documents will assist in pinning down what defect contributed/caused the accident. If you don’t have these, the potential defendants will have an opportunity to argue it was your lack of maintenance that caused the problem.
Getting the Right Help

It is important to hire an experienced attorney early in the process to preserve evidence, evaluate all possible defendants, and maximize you chance for recovery. The right attorney will know the signs and issues to look for through experience on previous cases. They will know the experts to call and weigh in on the more technical aspects where their testimony may be necessary to pin the liable party down. There may be multiple parties responsible in different ways for your accident. The right attorney can orchestrate your litigation to ensure justice is served. The wrong attorney may end up being the newest faulty part to cause you harm.
If you have been involved in an accident due to a faulty part, you should consider discussing your case with the experienced attorneys at Dolman Law. You can send an email to one of our attorneys directly at Jack@dolmanlaw.com, call him at 727-455-9400, or visit our website to chat with us online.