Monday, May 22, 2017

4 Things to do After a Slip and Fall Accident

Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of personal injuries in Florida and can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and other damages. Slip and fall cases can be difficult to prove because insurance companies will oftentimes dispute liability. They will claim that the owner of the property was not aware of the dangerous condition or was not notified of the defect in a timely manner. The insurance company may even claim that the injured plaintiff caused or contributed to the slip and fall accident and is entitled to little – if any – recovery.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall accident, you need an experienced slip and fall lawyer on your side representing you throughout your case. An experienced personal injury attorney may be able to assist you with settlement negotiations and, if necessary, can litigate the case for you and advocate for you in the courtroom.
This article will explore some steps you can take on your own after being involved in a slip and fall accident.
Seek Medical Treatment at a Hospital or Urgent Care Facility
Injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents can be serious and often include fractures, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries, just to name a few. Even if you do not believe that you sustained serious injuries, you should still seek immediate follow-up treatment at a hospital or emergency care facility.
In many cases, symptoms and pain do not manifest themselves until days – or even weeks – after sustaining an initial injury. Moreover, if you do not seek immediate medical treatment following the accident, and you develop symptoms and pain later, the insurance company will try and make it seem as though you were not all that seriously injured and/or that you do not deserve to be compensated.
Follow Through with the Emergency Room Physician’s Discharge Instructions and Recommendations
Emergency room and urgent care doctors often provide recommendations to their patients upon discharge. These recommendations typically include following up with a primary care physician or treating at another medical facility.
It is important that you follow through with these treatment recommendations because if you fail to do so, the insurance company will immediately take notice. You should also be sure that you attend all follow-up medical appointments, that you arrive at those appointments on time, and that you stay for the entire appointment.
Focus on Getting Better
During the days, weeks, and months following a slip and fall injury, it is important that you avoid strenuous activities, that you treat your injuries, and that you focus your energy on recovering fully. You should also be wary of social media postings on Facebook or Instagram that might portray you in a negative light to the insurance company.
Call an Experienced Lawyer
Soon after beginning your post-injury treatment, it is important that you contact a skilled Florida slip and fall lawyer. A lawyer will be able to discuss all of the facts and circumstances of your individual case with you and can help you to legally prove your injuries and damages.
Slip and fall cases can have many defendants. Defendants in a Clearwater slip and fall case might include an individual, a corporation, or a governmental entity, such as a city, county, or local government.
In every slip and fall case, the injured person must demonstrate that the property owner or occupier owed a duty of care directly to the injured person and that a breach of this duty proximately resulted in certain injuries and damages.
Duty of Care – This means that the owner or occupier of the property owed a legal duty to all visitors on the premises. The extent of this legal duty depends upon the visitor’s status on the premises – as well as the visitor’s reasons for being on the premises – at the time the slip and fall accident occurred. A business invitee (such as a customer at a store) who is on the premises for business purposes is typically owed a much higher duty of care than a bare licensee (such as a social guest) or a trespasser (who is generally not permitted to be on the premises for any purpose).
Breach (or Violation) of the Duty of Care – This means that the premises owner or occupier violated (or breached) the duty of care, such as by failing to clean up floor puddles in a timely manner or failing to repair a damaged sidewalk or stairwell leading onto the premises. Failing to timely warn visitors of a known dangerous condition on the premises can also amount to a breach of the applicable duty of care.
Causation – The injured person must show that the landowner or occupier’s breach of the applicable duty of care legally and proximately resulted in injuries and damages.
Damages – Damages in slip and fall cases consist of both economic and noneconomic damages. Types of damages available to slip and fall plaintiffs may include some or all of the following:
  • medical bills and expenses (hospital, doctor, and physical therapy bills)
  • lost wages
  • out-of-pocket expenses
  • past, present, and future pain and suffering 
  • loss of earning capacity
  • loss of spousal support or consortium
  • inconvenience
  • compensation for related mental health, psychological, or psychiatric treatment
  • rehabilitation expenses
  • loss of quality or enjoyment of life
  • loss of benefits
  • death benefits (if applicable)
Contact a Clearwater Slip and Fall Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Slip and fall accidents can bring about serious injuries and damages. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, our experienced Florida slip and fall attorneys may be able to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under Florida law.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Clearwater slip and fall lawyer, please call Dolman Law Group or contact us online.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

What Are Punitive Damages, and When Are They Available?

In order to prove a case in chief for negligence, a personal injury plaintiff must prove damages. Specifically, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the injuries and damages that he or she sustained were directly and proximately caused by the negligence of the defendant or defendants. In some of the most serious and egregious personal injury cases, punitive damages may be available to compensate an injured plaintiff in addition to the usual economic and noneconomic damages.

If you have sustained personal injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, then you may be entitled to monetary recovery under Florida law. A Florida personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you with obtaining monetary compensation, including punitive damages, against a responsible defendant or defendants.

Definition of Punitive Damages Under Florida Law

Under Florida law, in order to assert a claim for punitive damages, a personal injury plaintiff must first make a proffer that demonstrates a ‘reasonable basis’ for recovering the punitive damages in a particular case. In a nutshell, punitive damages are awarded to a personal injury plaintiff in order to punish the defendant and to discourage similar conduct by other tortfeasors in future similar cases.

Generally, punitive damages are available only in personal injury cases where gross negligence or acts of intentional misconduct were committed by the defendant. The Florida statutes define "intentional misconduct" as follows:

  • Situations where the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct involved; and 
  • Situations where the defendant, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued a certain course of misconduct, thereby resulting in serious injuries and damages to the personal injury plaintiff

Under most circumstances, punitive damages cannot exceed the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages or the sum of $500,000.00.
In cases where punitive damages are available to a personal injury plaintiff, the plaintiff may be able to recover those damages in addition to other types of monetary damages, such as economic and noneconomic damages. In other words, when they are available, punitive damages are made a part of a personal injury plaintiff's total recovery in the case.

Other Types of Damages Available to Personal Injury Plaintiffs

In addition to punitive damages (when they are available), an attorney may be able to help a plaintiff recover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those types of damages – such as compensation for medical bills, physical therapy bills, and lost wages – that may readily be calculated in terms of dollars and cents.

Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are much more difficult to calculate because they cannot be measured exactly. Noneconomic damages compensate a personal injury plaintiff for pain and suffering and other intangibles. An experienced New Port Richey personal injury lawyer may also be able to assist personal injury plaintiffs with obtaining some or all of the following types of economic and noneconomic damages:

  • Compensation for all related medical and physical therapy bills and expenses
  • Compensation for all time missed from work and lost wages, including time missed from work for attending medical appointments and recovering from injuries sustained in an accident
  • Compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering
  • Compensation for past, present, and future mental anguish
  • Compensation for causally related psychological or psychiatric treatment
  • Compensation for permanent injuries and impairment
  • Compensation for loss of earning capacity in cases of permanent impairment
  • Compensation for loss of companionship, consortium, and/or family support
  • Compensation for future medical care, including future medical procedures and surgeries
  • Wrongful death benefits, when applicable

The Benefits of Hiring a Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyer

In addition to gathering all necessary medical records and bills, litigating your personal injury case, and representing you at depositions and at trial, an experienced personal injury attorney may also be able to assist you with your case in some or all of the following ways:

  • Taking the necessary legal actions and making the necessary proffer to claim punitive damages in your personal injury case
  • Negotiating settlement offers with insurance adjusters and other insurance company representatives, helping you to maximize your monetary recovery in terms of both economic and noneconomic damages
  • Making recommendations about whether to accept a settlement offer or whether to go to trial
  • Exploring alternatives to trial, including alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation and arbitration
  • Filing suit against all potential defendants within the proper time period (i.e. the statute of limitations), in order to maximize financial recovery in a personal injury case
  • Representing a personal injury plaintiff during litigation and up through mediation, arbitration, or jury trial

Contact Dolman Law Group Today to Discuss Your Case

Our personal injury lawyers will have the necessary legal skills and expertise to determine whether punitive damages and other types of recovery are applicable to your case. If so, your attorney can take the necessary legal actions to maximize your recovery and help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

You should always remember that, generally speaking, insurance companies and their adjusters  are not on your side. They are typically more interested in safeguarding their own money, limiting their own liability exposure, and ensuring that as little money as possible is paid out in satisfaction of your personal injury claim.

Insurance company adjusters typically offer very little settlement money at the onset of a personal injury case, and it is almost guaranteed that they will not consider the possibility of punitive damages right off the bat. In many cases, adjusters will not even put a decent settlement offer on the table until long after a lawsuit has been filed and discovery has been completed and exchanged by the parties to the case.

The skilled legal team at Dolman Law Group will have the necessary legal expertise to effectively negotiate with the insurance adjuster and help you obtain the monetary compensation and damages you are entitled to under the law. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with our personal injury lawyers, please call us at 727-451-6900 or contact us online.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bad Habits on the Road that Lead to Car Crashes

You may consider yourself a good driver and express frustration at the other bad drivers on the road. But could you be guilty of one or more bad habits that lead to car crashes? Or have you been the victim of someone else’s bad habit that caused a car accident? If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney right away to discuss the laws that apply to your case and the compensation you deserve.

Driving While Drowsy

You consider yourself a responsible person. You work hard, and you take care of your family. However, today it has been a long day at work, and you can hardly keep your eyes open. You would never drive drunk or even consider texting while driving, but did you know getting into the driver's seat while drowsy can have equally significant effects? Some warning signs that you are too tired to drive include the following:

  • Delayed response to a stoplight change 
  • Missing exits or taking wrong roads
  • Swerving or veering onto rumble strips on the road side
  • Feeling of heaviness in eyelids or inability to keep eyes open

While coffee, music, and opening the windows may help you to feel like you are successfully keeping yourself awake, a much better solution is to pull over in a safe spot to sleep until you can drive safely. If you are close to home (for example, at work), consider calling a ride share program or a taxi. Car accidents can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a taxi is inexpensive in comparison.

Texting While Driving

You might think that sending a quick "On the way!" text will take your eyes off the road for just a second, but you are wrong. Florida has banned texting while driving - and for good reason. The NHTSA explains that reading or sending a text takes your eyes off the road for a full five seconds, which at freeway speeds, is the length of a football field. And you are not the only one guilty of putting yourself and others in danger in this way. Studies show that at any moment during the day in the United States, around 660,000 drivers are in the process of using a cellphone or electronic device while driving. These texts are not without consequences. In 2015 alone, 3,477 people died and 391,000 were injured in car crashes where drivers were distracted. What are some practical solutions to this problem?

  • The easiest solution is to wait. Your friends, your family, and your work would rather wait to hear a response from you and have you arrive at your destination safely.
  • Pull into a parking lot and park briefly if a text urgently needs to be sent. 
  • If you need to regularly send texts, consider carpooling or calling a cab so you can do so as a passenger.
  • Take a pledge to not text and drive in honor of someone you love.
  • Ask your friends and family to keep you accountable, making sure that you hold to your word in not texting while driving. 

Changing the GPS or radio can also be dangerous. Wait until you are not driving to do so, or ask a passenger to change the GPS or radio on your behalf.

Driving Under the Influence

Imagine you are leaving dinner with some business colleagues late Thursday night. You had only two beers, and you are fairly certain your blood alcohol levels are under the legal limit. As you leave, you attempt to make a left turn from the restaurant onto the road. However, you misjudge the distance of the oncoming cars. Not only could you be involved in a serious accident, but you may be at fault in taking the lives and/or property of others. These kinds of cases can haunt you for years or even through your entire life.

Like a speed limit, a blood alcohol limit is the maximum—you could be impaired at far less. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains that even a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent can lead to "decline in visual functions" and a decline in the "ability to perform two tasks at the same time." The NHTSA also states that 28 people in the United States die every day in an alcohol-related crash, costing over $52 billion annually. You may think that driving on one drink is perfectly safe, but that is not always the case.


Finally, even if you are fully focused on the road, driving too quickly, recklessly, or unsafely for the conditions can cause serious accidents. The NHTSA explains that there are multiple consequences for speeding, including the following:

Higher likelihood of losing control of the vehicle
Longer time to stop after a danger is seen
Higher likelihood of a severe crash and severe injuries
Higher costs and mental implications of a crash
Increased fuel usage

Reckless driving in Florida can also make you subject to criminal charges.

Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney for a FREE Case Evaluation

Any of these bad driver habits can cause serious accidents or injuries. Car accidents can have lifelong repercussions, ranging from significant health issues to heavy financial burdens. It is vital to have a qualified advocate ready to walk you and your family through the litigation process. The court system can be tricky to navigate, and insurance companies are skilled in ending the process as quickly and cheaply as possible, which can be problematic if your injuries or health care needs are more extensive than you know. If you or a loved one has suffered through a car accident, the Dolman Law Group is here to help you obtain the results you need. The Dolman Law Group includes the premier personal injury lawyers in the Clearwater area, and we stand ready to fight for your rights and the compensation you deserve. Call (727) 451-6900 today for a FREE consultation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765