Friday, May 26, 2017

Falls Can Happen in Any Workplace

Many people spend 40 hours or more per week working, and many jobs require that you go to an office or work-site to perform your duties. Since accidents can happen anywhere and because people spend so much time at work, it only makes sense that there is a risk of accidents and injuries during your work hours. One of the most common workplace accidents occurs when someone suffers a fall.

When you think of falling at work, you may first think about window-washers, roofers, utility repairmen, and other jobs that require you to be high off the ground. While falls are certainly a risk in those types of jobs, they are also surprisingly common in workplaces that normally would be considered low-risk.

At Dolman Law Group, our Clearwater workplace injury lawyers help victims of falls at work receive workers’ compensation coverage for all of their necessary medical treatments and the income they may lose while they recover from their injuries. If you’ve suffered injuries from a fall, please discuss what happened with a member of our highly experienced legal team as soon as possible.

Falls from Heights

Many work-related falls do happen from high places, and, as you may imagine, the injuries that result are often severe. Some high places from which people may fall at work include:

  • Scaffolding
  • Roofs
  • Stairs
  • Ladders
  • Platforms
  • Landings
  • Cranes or similar equipment
  • Bridge beams
  • Stepladders

While many falls happen because proper safety precautions were not taken - including necessary safety equipment and training - many others can happen even if all necessary precautions were taken. The good news is that workers' compensation benefits are available whether or not your employer was negligent or the fall was purely accidental.

Even a fall from a few feet off the ground can result in traumatic injuries that require extensive medical attention. Some of the most common injuries can include:

-Traumatic brain injury (TBI) - Many people who fall from heights hit their heads on either the ground or an object on the ground. Anytime someone hits his or her head, there is the potential to suffer a TBI, which can range from a concussion to a catastrophic brain injury that leaves that person in a coma and/or with permanent disabilities.

-Spinal cord injury - When fall victims hit the ground, the spinal cord can easily be damaged. Any damage to the spine can disrupt the functioning of the body below the point of injury, including movement abilities, sensation, bladder and bowel functioning, or even lung functioning if the injury is near the neck.

-Broken bones - Some broken bones are relatively straightforward to treat, though they require medical treatment and time for the bone to heal. More serious falls can result in compound fractures that may require surgery and the insertion of pins, screws, and other hardware to support the bone. The recovery time for such fractures can be months, and there may be permanent impairments.

-Back and neck injuries - Another common injury from a fall is damage to the soft tissue of the back or neck. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons can all be torn, sprained, or strained and can significantly restrict movement and can cause chronic pain. Most back and neck injuries require dedicated physical therapy and may continue to be an issue for years to come.

Slips, trips, and falls may happen on level ground, but that does not necessarily mean the injuries are not serious. Many slip and fall victims hit their heads, break a bone, or suffer damage to the tissue in their neck, back, or spinal cord, all of which need to be evaluated and properly treated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Slip and falls commonly result in medical bills and lost wages from missed work, which workers' compensation should reimburse. 

While falls from heights often happen in higher-risk work environments, slips and trips can happen absolutely anywhere. An office worker may not expect to be injured at work until they suddenly slip on a wet floor at work and find themselves on the ground and in pain. These injuries should be covered just as thoroughly as injuries from falls that appears to be more serious.

Your Rights as a Workplace Fall Victim

The law in Florida protects workers who sustain injuries at work that require medical treatment and/or cause them to miss work. Employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance that should provide coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and any short-term or long-term disabilities stemming from the fall. Following a workplace fall, it is imperative that you notify your supervisor and seek medical attention to stabilize and diagnose your injuries as soon as possible.

Your employer should make a claim with its insurer, and if it does not, you may pursue a claim yourself. In too many situations, valid claims are partially or completely denied for a variety of reasons. If you experience any difficulty with your workers' comp claim, you should not hesitate to call an experienced lawyer who can help you with this process to help you receive the benefits you need.

Contact a Clearwater, Florida, Workers' Compensation Attorney for Help Today

Whether you have fallen off scaffolding or slipped and fell in an office building, you deserve to recover the full benefits to which you are entitled under Florida's workers' compensation laws. All too often, the severity of injuries from falls can be questioned and a workers' comp insurer will try to limit your claim. To make sure all of your medical bills and lost wages are properly covered, you should not delay in calling Dolman Law Group for assistance.

At Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped clients with a wide range of work-related injuries, from sprains and strains to life-changing spinal cord injuries, among many others. We can protect your rights following a workplace accident, so please contact our office online or call 727-451-6900 for a free consultation today.

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

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.