Friday, December 30, 2016

If You’re Injured in a Florida Accident, Are you Liable for not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet?

For those who ride with the wind, especially the warm winds of Florida weather, sometimes you need to feel the breeze in your hair. And if you meet certain conditions, under Florida law, you can, since motorcycle helmets are not always required.
Florida Motorcycle Equipment Law

Florida Law1 permits a person over the age of 21 to operate or ride a motorcycle without a helmet if he or she carries at least $10,000 in personal injury insurance to cover injuries that may occur as the result of a crash. In fact, the majority of states grant riders over a certain age the same choice, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),2 in those states with mandatory helmet laws, nearly 100 percent of riders comply with the law, but in states without mandatory helmet laws, only 50 percent of riders chose to wear a helmet.[1] This begs the question, if you suffer a severe head injury that could have been prevented or mitigated had you been wearing a helmet, how should courts determine liability after a motorcycle crash?
Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports2 that traumatic brain injury contributes to approximately one-third of all injury-related deaths in the United States. Unfortunately, failure to wear an approved motorcycle helmet can contribute to the following life threatening injuries:

-Coup-Contrecoup, when the force of impact causes the brain to move within the skull;
-Tearing of the brain’s nerve tissue;
-Neck and spinal injuries, which may cause paralysis.

Brain injuries can be difficult to treat and leave you with life threatening injuries or permanent disabilities; however, can you be liable for your own medical expenses if you were operating your motorcycle safely at the time of the accident?
Florida Injury Mitigation Laws

Florida itself is a “comparative fault state,” meaning that even if you are the injured party, you may be held partially “at fault” for causing your own injures. Even though Florida law no longer requires riders to wear a helmet, this will not insulate you from liability. For example, a Florida jury can find that by not wearing a helmet, you were responsible for 40 percent of your injuries. This would cause a reduction in the total value of your case by 40 percent. Often such legal determinations require expert medical testimony, which can drastically increase the cost of litigation.
Contact a Qualified Florida Motorcycle Attorney to Discuss your Legal Options

Avid motorcyclists often make calculated choices not to wear a motorcycle helmet, as some believe it may increase the chance of spinal injuries. However, if you have suffered head trauma in a motorcycle accident, either the defendant or your insurance company may argue that you must bear a substantial portion of your medical expenses and damages. The Dolman Law Group is your go-to motorcycle accident firm in Clearwater, Florida. With experience handling catastrophic injuries, they understand the medical complexities necessary to advocate on behalf of your rights as a rider. Call 727-451-6900 today for a no-risk consultation.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Who Is Liable For Your Workplace Injury?

Let’s assume that you are injured in your workplace—a lighting fixture falls and hits you on the head, you burn yourself on a hot stove, or you fall down a flight of stairs. Who is liable for the injuries you sustained? The short answer is no one. The longer answer is that, today, we use a “no fault” system of liability for workplace injuries. These types of issues are handled almost exclusively by the Florida worker’s compensation system,1 and, in many cases, worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries.

The worker’s compensation system removes these issues from the court system and places them into the hands of an administrative agency. This system was established as a bargain between employers and employees—the employee gives up his or her right to sue an employer in civil court for work-related injuries and, in exchange, the worker can receive compensation for injuries without regard to fault. Thus, even if the worker is at fault for the injury, he or she can still be compensated. This would not be the case in civil court. To ensure that this system works the way it is supposed to, almost all employers are required by law to carry worker’s compensation insurance for their employees (but only for employees—worker’s compensation does not apply to independent contractors).

While the worker’s compensation system seems like an elegant solution to what otherwise would be a quagmire of long-running civil lawsuits and finger-pointing between employers and employees, there are several exceptions to the bar on civil suits against employers for workplace injuries. The most obvious of these are intentional torts.2 If your employer intentionally causes you harm, you retain the right to sue him or her in civil court. Examples of intentional torts include battery, assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, defamation, invasion of privacy, and theft. Note that this category of intentional torts includes both physical and non-physical harm. An employee can also sue an employer in a civil suit for the wrongful denial or termination of worker’s compensation benefits, but only after they have exhausted all steps in the administrative process.

Just as there are several exceptions to the bar on civil suits against employers for work-related injuries, there are also exceptions to recovery under the worker’s compensation system. A worker can be barred from recovery under the worker’s compensation system for self-inflicted injuries. However, if it can be shown that the self-inflicted injury was the result of work-related stress or one of the intentional torts outlined above, an employee can often still recover. This situation arises unfortunately often in the case of police officers who take their own lives due to the stress and trauma of their jobs, as courts are increasingly willing to to consider suicide as a work-related injury in these types of professions. Intoxication and drug use are also general bars to recovery. If an employer can prove that a worker was intoxicated or impaired at the time of the injury, the burden shifts to the employee to prove that the intoxication did not contribute to the injury.

Contact a Clearwater, FL Personal Injury Lawyer 

If you have been injured on the job and believe you may have a worker’s compensation claim, it is often wise to contact an experienced worker’s  compensation attorney who can help you navigate the claims process. In addition, if you have been denied benefits you deserve, you definitely need the assistance of a lawyer who understands the appeals process. Please contact the worker’s compensation attorneys at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Home Appliances Can Cause Injury

In early November of 2016, consumer electronics giant Samsung announced that it would be recalling 34 models of its top-load washing machines sold between March 2011 and 2016.1 The issue, it claimed, was that the drums in the top-load washers lost balance at high speeds, causing vibrations so strong that the tops of the washing machines could detach. Samsung received 733 reports of excessive vibration or the top detaching from the unit, as well as 9 reports of injuries, including broken jaws and injured shoulders. Consumers who purchased the affected washing machines were offered either a free repair or a rebate to purchase a new machine. This recall comes at a sensitive time for Samsung, given that the company also recently recalled its entire line of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones due to reports that their lithium-ion batteries were exploding.

The Samsung washers incident raises a larger question: What should you do if you have purchased a defective, dangerous product? The law governing products liability2 varies little from state to state, and is generally based upon a theory of strict liability. Under traditional negligence law, a defendant’s conduct must fall below the standard expected of a reasonably prudent person in defendant’s position. Strict liability, however, removes this requirement. In order to prevail on a theory of strict liability, a plaintiff must show merely that:

-A product was sold in an unreasonably dangerous condition
-The seller expected and intended that the product would reach the consumer without changes, and
-The plaintiff or the plaintiff’s property was injured by the defective product

Although the burden of proof for strict products liability is lower than for a showing of traditional negligence, there are several defenses available to a defendant in a products liability action that will preclude a plaintiff’s recovery, or at least reduce it, including:

-The plaintiff used the product in a way he or she knew could lead to injury (known as “assumption of the risk”)
-The plaintiff’s own careless use of the product contributed to the injury
-Some other person other than the manufacturer and plaintiff interacted with the product to the extent that the product itself was not the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injury

When it comes to the type of defect that can inform a cause of action for products liability, there are three major categories: Defective manufacture, defective design, and failure of adequate warning. Defective manufacturing defects arise when the product is flawed because of an error in the construction of the product, making that particular product more dangerous than other products in the line. For example, a coffee machine with a faulty auto-off feature would be an example of a defect of manufacture. A product has a defective design if the product’s design is inherently dangerous, affecting the entire line of products. For example, the Samsung washers would arguably be a case of defective design. A failure of adequate warning defect arises when a product is dangerous in a way that’s not obvious to the user and requires the user to take extra precautions. A tooth-whitening solution that does not include a warning that prolonged exposure could lead to chemical burns is an example of failure of adequate warning.

Contact a Clearwater, FL Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Case

If you’ve been injured by a consumer product and believe you may have a products liability claim, please contact the Clearwater products liability attorneys at the Dolman Law Group for a free

Friday, December 16, 2016

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

The NHTSA defines a pedestrian as any person on foot, walking, running, jogging, hiking, sitting or lying down.  According to a recently published study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 4,800 pedestrians were killed and approximately 65,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the U.S. On average, a pedestrian is killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes in the U.S.  The vast majority of pedestrian accidents occur in urban areas at traffic intersections.

Pedestrian Rights and Responsibilities.

Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way in the following areas:
·       Crosswalks
·       Public roads and highways
·       Public and private sidewalks

Although pedestrians are required to follow traffic signals such as “walk or do not walk” signals, some do not.  When in doubt, you should always give a pedestrian the right of way.  This includes jaywalkers too.  However, pedestrians cannot negligently navigate public roads and wander aimlessly.  They must be aware of their surroundings and act as a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances.

Why Do Pedestrian Accidents Happen?

Pedestrian accidents can be caused by drivers of motor vehicles or by pedestrians themselves

·       Driver’s Fault
o   Failing to give pedestrian right of way in a crosswalk
o   Speeding
o   Distractions such as using a cell phone (i.e. texting), putting makeup on, eating, or changing the radio station
o   Driving under the influence of alcohol or other illicit substances
o   Faulty brakes

·       Pedestrian’s Fault
o   Failing to adhere to traffic signal
o   Jaywalking
o   Public intoxication
o   Not walking on the sidewalk

What Injuries can Arise from a Pedestrian Accident?

Most pedestrian injuries occur at the scene of the accident, but other injuries may occur as a proximate cause of the injury.  For instance, a broken rib can lead to internal bleeding.  Or, a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle may be tossed into a light pole as a result of the impact.  Common injuries stemming from pedestrian accidents include:

·       Broken and fractured bones
·       Concussions, brain swelling, brain fractures, or hematomas (blood clots)
·       Cuts, bruises and scrapes
·       Spinalcord injuries

Consulting with an Attorney after a Pedestrian Accident.Motorists owe pedestrians a certain duty of care when navigating the roads.  Many times motorists behave negligently, causing injury to pedestrians. We offer free consultations and represent clients all throughout the state of Florida.  Our office are located in Clearwater, New Port Richey, and St. Petersburg. Don’t delay, call us today to discuss your claim. If you were hit by a motor vehicle and believe you have a pedestrian injury claim, contact the experienced Dolman Law personal injury attorneys at 727-451-6900 today.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Top 6 Types of Personal Injury Claims

Car accidents are responsible for the most personal injury cases in the United States. This is really not all that surprising when you consider how often we, as a society, perform the activity and when you consider just how dangerous the task can be. Accidents most often occur because a driver was not following the rules of the road or because the driver was being careless or negligent.
Often times, a careless driver can be held financially responsible for any injuries their negligence caused. That’s because drivers have a duty to drive with care and caution. When they breach that duty, they put other people’s lives, health, and financial stability at risk.
In Florida, drivers are required to carry a type of insurance called Personal Injury Protection. The phrase is best thought of in two parts: Personal–Injury Protection. The ‘personal’ aspect implies that the coverage is for the individual, not to cover the other drive. The second part, ‘injury protection’, guarantees a driver a certain amount of financial compensation to help pay for their medical bills and resulting lost wages. This type of insurance prevents drivers from suing each other (or rather from having the need to sue each other) for minor injuries. However, in cases of serious injuries, additional compensation can be sought through litigation.
2. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice claims are a result of two things: a doctor or other healthcare professional failing to provide competent and reasonably skilled care, and a patient being injured as a result. More specifically, medical malpractice implies that a healthcare provider did not give someone the same standard of care that other medical professionals would have provided under similar circumstances. You have to also prove that the healthcare provider's negligence caused damages.
It may sound obvious, but the need to prove both parts—negligence and damages—is central to this type of case. This means that if someone is injured while in the care of a doctor who was not negligent (meaning they did everything they could and everything that a similar doctor would have done) then it’s not medical malpractice. Likewise, if a doctor is negligent in their care of a patient, but there is no resulting injury, it’s not medical malpractice either. These cases are some of the most complex and most difficult to prove. There are many laws that protect healthcare providers from these types of lawsuits; and for good reason. If someone is shot in the brain and needs emergency surgery, you wouldn’t want the doctor second-guessing their every move because of fear of litigation.
Most medical malpractice attorneys are careful about the cases they pursue because of these strict requirements. In order to have a successful case, injuries and damages must be well documented. If they are, an expert witness will review the case to find undoubted proof that the doctor breached a reasonable standard of care; they then testify to these things in court. Although these cases are rare and complex, when they do occur the damage to the patient is often significant.
3. Slip-and-Fall
Slip-and-fall cases are another common type of personal injury claim. Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their property (legally termed ‘premises’) reasonably safe and free of hazards, in an effort to keep anyone on their property safe. As you have surely noticed, this type, and the two above of it, all have some sort of ‘duty’ in common. This is because a duty of care is central to the idea of negligence. Basically, in order to hold someone else accountable for something that happened to you, you must first prove that they had some legal reason to care for you.
Of course, not all injuries that happen on someone else’s property fit the parameters of a slip-and-fall lawsuit. The exact nature of a landowner's legal duty varies depending on the situation.
Causation is important when it comes to all personal injury cases, and slip-and-fall claims are no different. Personal injury resulting from a slip-and-fall case must meet one of the following criteria:
  • The owner or an employee must have caused a dangerous surface or condition;
  • or an employee must have known about the dangerous surface or situation and not done anything to fix it or to warn others; or
  • The owner or an employee should have known about the dangerous surface because a reasonable person would have known about it and tried to fix it.
Judges and juries will determine if an owner or employee of the place where you fell took the steps to fix the hazard or to warn you about it. On the other hand, they will also try to find out if you had a good reason to be in the dangerous area. They will want to know if you were distracted or if a reasonable person would have avoided the unsafe space.
4. Defamation
Defamation, or defamation of character, comes from the idea of “de–faming” someone else. Although we often think of the term ‘fame’ as relating to celebrity, its technical definition more accurately refers to reputation. When someone commits defamation, they inflict an injury to another person’s reputation through the promotion of untrue statements.
There are two types of defamation:
Libel:  written or printed words or pictures.
Slander: the defamation of a person, group, organization, or product that was made in spoken words or some other type of non-printed communication.
One may have a defamation case if a false statement(s) was said as if it was true and damage to one’s reputation, business, livelihood, etc. was the result. It is important to document both that the statement was false (saying something that is bad but true is not defamation) and that damages occurred due to the statement, such as lost income or mental anguish. One must also prove that the statement was heard or seen by more than just the defamer and the victim; and that it was presented as fact and not as opinion.

5. Dog Bites/Animal Attacks
Every year in the US, thousands of people are bitten by animals—most often dogs. In most of these cases, a person bitten by an animal has a legal right to recover damages from the animal's owner. In some states, a person must prove that the owner has prior knowledge that the dog was dangerous, but that is not the case in Florida.
Florida's dog bite law [FLSA 767.04] states that a dog owner is liable for injuries if:
-The dog bites another person, and
-The person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place.
This statute specifically references dog ‘bites’, and not other injuries caused by a dog. If a person is injured by a dog in another way, like being knocked down a staircase, they would need to prove that the owner was negligent or failed to use reasonable care. For example, if a person failed to restrain a large dog or to use a leash.
As mentioned above, other states have conditions to liability. However, Florida has a "strict liability" clause in regards to dog bites. This means that a Florida dog owner may be held liable if their dog bites someone, even if the owner had no warning that the dog might bite or prior knowledge that the dog was dangerous. Additionally, the injured person does not have to prove that a lack of reasonable care caused the bite. If you are ever bitten by dog, always seek medical attention right away, especially if the dog is unknown to you. This will reduce your chance of further complications, like rabies infection.  
6. Assault and Battery
The legal system often links the terms ‘assault’ and ‘battery’ together. However, the two have slightly different meanings. Likewise, the exact legal definition of each term varies by the state. In Florida, assault refers to a threat of harm to an individual that leads to the victim's fear of imminent harm. The offense does not necessarily include physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. On the other hand, if the person makes physical contact with the victim, they have committed battery.
In order to have a case against someone for assault or battery, the victim must prove that the perpetrator touched them intentionally and that it was against the victim’s will. There are varying level of degrees to both battery and assault. Like defamation, assault and battery are criminal acts that can also constitute a civil case. These are also known as intentional torts. Unlike other types of personal injury cases, negligence is not involved because the defendant meant to harm the victim. Just like any other situation where another party inflicts harm, a victim has the right to recover their damages. Of course, this is in addition to any criminal charges that would come from the incident.
Dolman Law Group
If you or someone you know has been injured because of someone’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer a free evaluation of your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. We have handled hundreds of personal injury cases and completely understand the devastation they can cause. At Dolman Law Group, we focus on quality representation rather than the quantity of client we serve; this is part of our “Dolman Law Difference.” We look forward to helping you and your family fully recover: physically, emotionally, and financially. Call us today for a free consultation at 727-451-6900 or send us an email on our contact us page.