Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Causes of Rollover Crashes

There are many types of car accidents: rear end, sideswipe, left turn, failure to yield, and many more. While any type of car accident can cause injuries, rollover accidents are particularly dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that rollover accidents have a higher fatality rate than other types of accidents. While rollover accidents account for only 2.1% of all accidents in 2010, they accounted for 35% of all deaths from passenger vehicle accidents in the United States.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact the Dolman Law Group to schedule a free consultation with a Clearwater area personal injury attorney. Our experienced car accident lawyers ensure that your claim is negotiated and litigated aggressively so that you receive the fair compensation to which you are legally entitled.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these are some of the most common causes of rollover accidents:
Speed: NHTSA reports that approximately forty percent of fatal rollover accidents involve excessive speed. Seventy-five percent of all fatal rollover accidents occurred in locations where the posted speed limit was fifty-five miles per hour or higher. Speed makes it more difficult for drivers to control their vehicles. This is particularly problematic in SUVs and other vehicles with a high center of gravity.
Alcohol: NHTSA also reports that nearly half of all fatal rollover accidents involved alcohol.
Location: Rural roads - without dividers or barriers - experience more rollover accidents than urban areas. Nearly seventy-five percent of all fatal rollover accidents occurred in rural areas.
Driver Error: Fatal rollover accident data indicates that driver behavior one of the most significant factors in causing rollover accidents. Nearly eighty-five percent of all fatal rollover accidents involved a single car (indicating that there was no other driver whose behavior contributed to the accident). Furthermore, ninety percent of those accidents occurred during routine driving maneuvers, such as driving straight or negotiating a curve. These facts strongly suggest that inattentiveness and distraction are frequent factors in rollover accidents.
The Types of Vehicles Which are Most Susceptible to Rollover Accidents
There is no single vehicle that can be considered the “safest”. This is because driving situations are not uniform, and the needs of the driver will vary based upon the unique present circumstances. Forbes points out that, generally, heavier trucks and sport utility vehicles are at an advantage in a collision, because they absorb less impact from the other vehicle. Yet SUVs and pickup trucks are twice as likely to roll over in a single car accident, and because of this, they have high fatality rates.

The high rollover rate is attributable to physics. Trucks and SUVs have a higher center of gravity that lower, smaller cars. This makes it easier for them to tip over. It also makes it more difficult for a driver to correct the vehicle once something (such as wind) has impaired the vehicle’s balance. New electronic stability control technologies can help drivers maintain control, but such features cannot wholly compensate for the challenging physics of a tall, narrow vehicle.
Large, heavy vehicles are generally more difficult to control. This makes it difficult to correct even small changes in balance. In one tragic case out of Jupiter, two Florida paramedics were killed when a car attempted to make a u-turn in front of their ambulance. In a more bizarre case out of San Antonio, a truck carrying snakes and a baby alligator lost control after a tire blowout. Twenty-three snakes were captured, but the baby alligator was not immediately found. Law enforcement agents had to perform a reverse 911 call operation to make local residents aware of the alligator and remaining snakes. Such cases illustrate the outlandish - and sometimes deadly - consequences of even a simple rollover accident.
Of course, large and heavy vehicles are not the only ones which can roll over. One Virginia Tech medical student has spent years researching lawn mower accidents and found that rollover accidents on lawn mowers are surprisingly common. He hopes to start an injury prevention program in the local region (which experiences a high number of rollover lawn mower accidents). All-terrain vehicles are also prone to rolling over. ATV accidents have recently claimed the lives of victims in Myrtle Point, Oregon; Round Lake Township, Washington; and a thirteen-year-old girl in Bonavista, Canada.
Large trucks pose many hazards to all drivers and passengers on the road. When a big rig is heavy with loaded cargo, it can easily lose control. This can cause the truck to roll over or cause other vehicles to lose control and roll over themselves. Drivers should use particular caution any time there is a big rig on the road:
  • Leave adequate space between your vehicle and the truck (which requires a longer stopping distance). 
  • Make sure the truck driver can see you and use lights or horns as necessary. 
  • Signal any lane changes well in advance. Do not make any unexpected movements.
  • Use particular caution in construction zones and anywhere else large trucks are likely to be found. 
  • Do not allow yourself to become distracted by passengers (such as children or pets) or 
  • technology (such as entertainment systems, navigation systems, or smart phones).
  • Identify hazards as early as possible. This will maximize the time available to respond, and improve your chances of avoiding a collision or rollover accident. 
  • Stay awake and alert behind the wheel. Pull over and rest when you begin to feel fatigued. 

Experienced Representation for your Rollover Accident Claim
The car accident attorneys of the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in negotiating and litigating car accident claims. They fight hard to protect Clearwater residents from injuries and ensure that they are fairly compensated when injuries do occur. Our experienced team has the legal expertise to successfully handle your claim. Call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will protect your right to be compensated for your injuries and losses.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Monday, August 7, 2017

Florida Supreme Court Does Not Allow Insurer to Pursue Claims against Doctor

by Darryl Ervin Rouson, Esq.

It is important at Dolman Law Group to know the laws affecting full recovery. Injuries sustained in a car accident do not necessarily stop at the site of the crash. Further injuries may also incur on the way to the hospital or even once a person is under medical care. If an individual’s negligence caused a car accident, they may be responsible not only for injuries to another person from the crash, but also any injuries that person suffered while being treated for the initial injuries, including medical malpractice. The theory behind this is that the injured party would not be in the hospital to begin with if it wasn’t for the negligence of the person who caused the crash. 

The Supreme Court of Florida ruled this month that an at-fault driver, or their insurance company, cannot sue the injured party’s medical provider before the at-fault driver has fully paid a judgment against them. In this case, Holmes Regional Medical Center, Inc. v. Allstate InsuranceCo., a male on a scooter, Benjamin Hintz, was hit by a negligent driver, Emily Boozer. Mr. Hintz was injured and taken to the hospital where he suffered further injuries due to medical negligence. Hintz sued Boozer and was awarded $11.1 million for injuries. Hintz then sued the hospital for medical malpractice and Boozer, the at-fault driver, then tried to enter as a party to the case. 

If an individual is hurt in a car accident, that was not their fault, they can file a personal injury claim against whomever caused the accident and may be able to recover monetary damages. If the party that caused the accident has insurance, their insurance company may be responsible for paying some, or all, of the damages. Furthermore, Florida is a contributory negligence state. That means if one party is 70 percent at fault for the accident and you are 30 percent at fault you can still recover damages, but they will be reduced by the percentage you were at fault. 

In this case, the injured party filed a personal injury claim against the driver and the jury awarded him almost $15 million dollars, which was reduced to $11.1 million dollars due to comparative negligence. The driver’s insurance paid $1.1 million, but the driver nor the insurance company paid the remaining $10 million judgment.

After the verdict from the personal injury claim, the injured party filed a medical malpractice suit against the hospital. The driver of the car, and her insurance company, intervened in the law suit as parties seeking equitable subordination. Equitable subordination would lower the claim for the driver based on damages recoverable from the medical provider. The theory of equitable subordination is that an at-fault party required to pay a legal judgment should be given some financial assistance with the payment by another party that may have been partially at fault. 

The trial court initially dismissed the driver and insurance company because their $11.1 million verdict was not paid in full. However, the 5th District Court of Appeals reversed and allowed them to come in as a party of the suit because the verdict had been entered against them, whether or not it had been paid. The injured party and hospital appealed to the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court of Florida ruled that although an at-fault driver may seek equity from a negligent doctor, the at-fault driver must have fully paid their claim before doing so. Therefore, before the driver here seeks money from the hospital for any damages they were responsible for, the driver must first pay the $11.1 million judgment against her. 

The injured party has the right to sue both the at-fault driver and the hospital because the wrongful acts were separate. Additionally, the Court noted that the injured party has a right to a judgment against the driver as well as the hospital as long as there is only one recovery.

If you've been involved in a car accident or the victim of medical malpractice, contact the experienced attorneys at Dolman Law Group for your free case evaluation.

Dolman Law Group
Clearwater-St. Petersburg-New Port Richey-Sarasota

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Auto Accident and Addiction Risks

Requesting pain management treatment in the wake of a serious personal injury or an auto accident is a decision that comes with risks of addiction. Dolman Law Group is very sensitive and knowledgeable about this. You should not be afraid to address this matter with your lawyer and your doctor. You are already in pain, suffering from injury and want relief.  In the past, addiction was labeled as “Substance Dependence."[1] It is hard to ignore the suggestion of the word dependence: that the patient simply isn’t strong enough to get along without depending on prescription pain killers. There are so many options, alternatives and current data that can be talked about and recommended. [2]

An epidemic of opioid abuse in many of our communities has created victims of this addiction fueled sometimes by an unknowing doctor and a silent client.  We at Dolman Law Group want you to get better and the healing process hastened not hindered by developing an addiction. [3]

Knowledge of the ways that the medical theory of drug addiction has finally changed can help you talk with your doctor about the very real risk of developing or relapsing into a drug addiction when being treated for chronic pain resulting from a personal injury whether it is a slip and fall or an auto accident. The Fifth (most recent) Edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has begun to reflect the physical effects caused on the brain by drug use, which create the compulsion to use that is characteristic of addiction. [4] It states in its introduction to Substance Use Disorders that disorders of this type are characterized by physical changes in the brain, and that the intense drug craving of addiction is connected to those physical changes.[5]

However, drug use does not necessarily lead to addiction. Rather, each person has a unique set of risk factors, as with any other condition, that can indicate that person's likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.[6] Some risk factors for the development of a substance use disorder include a person’s home and social life, age at first use, and method of administration.[7] To receive treatment for pain management that is both safe and effective, your unique set of risk factors should be candidly discussed with your doctor and your lawyer, with an eye to the positive outcome from your pain management treatment.

Additionally, behaviors that are likely to indicate that an addiction has been developed include loss of control, preoccupation with use, and use despite negative consequences.[8] If any of these behaviors develop after treatment has begun, you should bring them up with your doctor and your lawyer, and face head-on the possibility that your treatment may need to be adjusted. This is not fatal to your case but can be a significant factor in the outcome. 

If you have developed an addiction, it is important for you to know that today’s medical community recognizes the treatability, and both your doctor and your personal injury lawyer should be conscientious of the medical needs arising from developing an addiction. However, available treatments can vary widely, and you will need to discuss with your doctor what treatments will be appropriate for your needs. An effective treatment will be backed by scientific evidence, tailored to your individual needs, adaptable to those needs as they change, available to last as long as your recovery requires. [9]

Ultimately, it’s important to know that the changing landscape of medical treatment for addiction means that a caring professional, be it your doctor or your Dolman lawyer, will be receptive to the needs of an individual patient / client, and so will work to prevent a drug addiction from forming in the first place, but will be available to help you through if it does form. As a patient and client you should feel comfortable and confident candidly discussing your fears and your needs, and any symptoms of addiction that arise while being treated for pain management. Your doctor and your lawyer are both under a duty to put your well-being first, and they should work to accommodate all of your medical and legal needs, particularly your pain management needs. Make sure you choose the right lawyers who are knowledgeable, caring and ready to stand up for your total needs. 

-Darryl E. Rouson, Esq.