Forgot Password? / Help

Your Clearwater and St. Petersburg Personal Injury Law Firm

Author: Matthew Dolman

Dolman Law Group, a Pinellas County Law Firm, is a personal injury law firm with satellite offices located St Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton and Melbourne Florida. Our mission is to provide zealous and competent service for any individual injured due to the negligence exhibited by either an individual or a corporation. We only represent the injured in Florida and no member of the Dolman Law Group will ever represent an insurance company.

I Was Hit By Someone Borrowing A Car: What Are My Rights?

“CarYou’ve got a great car that’s never done you wrong. It’s always been there for you, even if it has had some tough moments. Whether you found a cheap deal in someone’s back yard or bought an expensive luxury motor vehicle from a dealer, cars are not only cherished, but often expensive to maintain. The car itself, however, is probably the least of your issues. Repairs, insurance, gas, and new gadgets for your car can easily make it one of most expensive thing you’ve got in your possession right now.

With that said, it’s understandable how a car accident can be a serious mood-shifter for everyone; renters, leasers, and owners. It also adds insult to injury when the accident you were involved in is a confusing, complicated, and difficult one where fault, insurance, ownership, and other questions come in to play. Let’s go over what can happen in the event that someone borrowing a vehicle crashes into you. You may be stressing out about the damage your car has sustained; you may think that because they were borrowing a car that the rules change. This will answer any questions you may have.

Are The Medical Expenses Covered?


Florida is a “no-fault” state in which bodily injury and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage is mandatory. In the event of any accident—regardless of fault or circumstance—treatment is to be hastily given to anyone involved and will be covered by his or her insurance provider (assuming that these patients are eligible for PIP). There are many specific guidelines to PIP insurance and some complex steps that are taken by insurance providers to determine how much money is allotted and what it can be used for, so be sure to read more about personal injury protection.

Now that we know about PIP, it doesn’t matter if they were in your car, their car, a stolen car, or no car at all! They will be medically covered if they have automobile insurance! Even in the event that they don’t have their own auto insurance policy, they may be eligible under the policy of someone they live with. For more answers about bodily injury and personal injury protection coverage, speak with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney.

Will The Repair Costs Be Covered?


While Florida is a no-fault state for personal injury and medical treatment, insurance companies can and will take fault into consideration when determining your right for coverage. The fact that the car that crashed into you was borrowed should play little to no role in their decision. It is to be treated as a normal accident and should be covered at such. That raises the question “who’s going to cover all these damages if the person who just hit me isn’t even the owner of this car?!”

A great question indeed! Stated over and over again on insurance websites, car insurance does in fact follow the car. That means that no matter who is in that driver’s seat when it damages you or your property, the insurance ‘attached’ to that car is what’s going to cover you. A monkey could steal a car and crash it into you; you are covered by the policy that is registered for that car by the owner, renter, or leaser, even if they weren’t driving it! 

If the damages caused by the accident are greater than the policy registered for that car, the person who was borrowing the car may also have insurance. Their insurance is to be used to cover any leftover expenses that exceed the owner’s policy. What if the borrower is uninsured? If you’ve got an Uninsured Motorist’s policy to protect you from negligent uninsured or underinsured drivers, then it will kick in to cover any expenses that exceed the owner’s policy.

If you’ve no UM/UIM policy you should consider reading this great post about why it is an important provision to have on your policy!

What Will Happen To The Other Party?


The other party is a completely different story. Put yourself in the shoes of the other party for just a moment…

Johnny owns a blue car. He picks up his friend Chris and they both agree on a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. As they’re pulling in Chris gets a phone call from his friend Briana and she wants to tag along!

Johnny patiently waits in the restaurant while he lets Chris borrow his car to pick up Briana. It’s only a 5-minute trip so it shouldn’t be too bad! 3 blocks away from the restaurant Chris runs a stop-sign and collides with a red car in the intersection.

In this short scenario, you’re the red car. We’ve already talked about what you’d be able to do in that scenario, but maybe someone is reading this and they portray Johnny in this situation. Well, Johnny, here’s what you need to decide to determine how coverage for YOU is going to work! Ask yourself these questions about the person who borrowed your car and got into an accident.

1.) Did they have permission to drive your vehicle, or any vehicle for that matter? (i.e. unlicensed or suspended driver) 
  • Yes, they had my permission. (Continue to question #2).
  • No, they did not have my permission. (You are claiming that your car was stolen. If this was a real stolen vehicle case and someone you truly didn’t want driving your car took it without your permission, you need to file a police report. This will have to be treated as a crime and you should be covered.)
  • It’s crucial to understand the circumstances of reporting a stolen vehicle. If your brother, for example, takes your car to the store to surprise you with a candy bar and ends up in an auto accident, reporting your car stolen could end with your brother in jail. It could also lead to coverage of your vehicle which otherwise may have been denied.
  • If they aren’t licensed (or permitted) at all, coverage should take place, but it’s best to speak with an attorney.

2.) Do they live with you or do they have constant, regular, and/or expected use of your car?

  • Yes, they live with me and/or have regular, expected access to my car. (Continue to question #3).
  • No, they do not live with me. (If they have their own insurance it will pay for any leftover expenses that your own policy could not cover. If they don’t have their own insurance, you may be left with the outstanding balance.)
  • They will be medically covered by their own personal injury protection (PIP) if they have auto insurance, but if they are uninsured AND do not reside with you, your insurance should not cover their medical bills and any claims will likely be denied, however; denial of a PIP claim needs good reason.

3.)Are they on your insurance policy in ANY way, shape, or form?
  • This question is the game changer and also the leading cause of coverage denial, insurance fraud charges, and premium raises. The answer to this question will either place you in the fast lane to coverage or in a court room. There are a few factors that will separate the ignorant from the criminals. There are only 3 possible answers to this question.
  • Yes, I have informed my insurance provider of the presence of this licensed driver, they have evaluated his or her risk and adjusted my premium accordingly. (Your car will be covered; as I stated before, if they have their own insurance it will come into play after yours depletes. Since they live with you, even an uninsured driver can be covered under your PIP policy if there is a blood or marital relationship. )
  • Yes, I have specifically excluded them from my policy. (Continue to section “Why Would You Exclude Someone?)
  • No, the insurance company was not aware of the presence of this licensed driver. (Continue to section “The Ghosted Driver”)

The Ghosted Driver


This can be a horrible situation to end up dealing with. If the insurance company discovers that someone has been actively driving your car but were never informed of such activity, they can take serious measures to make sure you regret the lack of communication.

This is known as material misrepresentation; in other words—if something you said (or didn’t say) has changed the way the provider handled you as a customer (or altered the contract in any sense of the word), you’ve probably made a big mistake.

Next, it has to be decided if it was true error or done intentionally. An example of an understandable accident would be a teenager who just got his or her license and has yet to be put on the policy or mentioned to the insurance provider.

An example of ‘intentional’ avoidance would be your 23-year-old brother who drives your car 5 miles to work every day but has yet to be mentioned to your insurance provider. You’ll have a hard time explaining to your provider why you let him go so long without putting him on your policy.

If they declare intentional material misrepresentation, you’re looking at some potentially hefty backfires. They can deny coverage completely; cover you if and only if you agree to exclude the “ghosted driver” from your policy from now and onwards; raise your premium significantly or maybe even terminate the contract altogether.

Why Would You Exclude Someone?


Exclusion is simply a term to represent someone that you have agreed and decided best (alongside your insurance provider) to deny coverage under your policy. For example, if you specifically contact your provider, tell them that your 16-year-old daughter just got her license and that you want her excluded, and then fill out some paperwork to make it happen; in the event that your daughter gets into an accident, she will not be covered under your policy.

Why would you want to do that? It sounds so cruel! Well, actually, it’s probably the most common way that honest insured families go about their business. It’s not just to be mean and deny coverage to your family members or roommates; it’s to keep the risk factor in your insurance policy low and cost effective.

Insurance companies decide your premium based on a risk assessment of all licensed drivers in your household. Assuming you’re not leaving anyone out (refer to “The Ghosted Driver”, they’ll go over each and every candidate and calculate your premium based on the total chance of an accident. If you live with someone that has multiple DUIs on their record, it’s an undoubtedly smart decision to exclude them from your policy; in fact, the insurance provider may require you to do so for continued coverage.

Choosing not to exclude a brand new 16-year-old driver could raise your premiums significantly, which is why you exclude them in the first place. It’s essentially a double-sided agreement to the insurance provider stating that “I will promise this excluded person will never drive my car if you can promise to keep my premiums at a low-risk rate.”

In the event that someone who has been specifically named or excluded from your policy’s coverage gets in your car and gets in an accident, you’re likely to be held responsible for the accident and the expenses. Unless you can prove criminal actions were the cause of the accident, it was your responsibility to make sure the excluded driver was truly excluded.

CONTACT OUR CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS 

Regardless of how, who, what, why, when, or where an accident took place; medical treatment or coverage to you or a loved one is not to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know was involved in an accident in which coverage is owed but is being delayed, denied, or only paid partially; you may be entitled to compensation. It’s very common to see insurance providers get away with sneaky, unacceptable insurance practices simply because the insured party doesn’t know any better. Even if all you need is a few questions answered, feel free to contact the Clearwater, Florida based Dolman Law Group for a free consultation and case evaluation. You may be surprised to find out that you’ve got a winning case in your hands.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
727-451-6900

Practice Area: Personal Injury and Automobile Accident

0.0/60votes
Voting statistics:
RatePercentageVotes
60%0
50%0
40%0
30%0
20%0
10%0

Fall Back – and Travel Safe

“NightSpring forward, fall back! It’s that time of year again. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 2, 2014. One of the easiest ways to prepare for the time change is to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday. Fortunately the timing works out well this year for the little trick-or-treaters on Halloween – at least some of the younger children will be able to get out and make their neighborhood rounds before darkness falls.

Starting Sunday afternoon, though, remember that darkness will arrive an hour earlier, affecting drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in different ways. Late afternoon activities will take place under dusky conditions, typically the most difficult time for visibility. Although the National Safety Council reports that fewer cars are on the roadways after dark, more accidents occur at this dangerous time of day. Decreased visibility and driver fatigue due to changes in sleep pattern make for a dangerous combination.

Drivers should check their headlights to make sure they’re clean and properly aligned, and start using them about an hour before dusk. Make sure your windshield is clean for maximum visibility, with ample wiper fluid and new blades to deal with changing weather conditions. Allow extra time to get to your destination and be on the alert for pedestrians and animals on and near the roadways, especially deer.

Pedestrians and bicyclists should prepare for night-time activities as well, remembering that the dusky conditions put them more at risk than usual, particularly from distracted drivers. Light-colored or reflective clothing will help make sure that you are seen by drivers. Make sure that your bicycle has working reflectors and a battery-operated light if you will be riding after dark. Walk or ride in well-lit, designated areas and cross carefully at marked intersections.

Your Monday morning commute to work or school may feel unusual as well. Although it will be lighter earlier, traffic patterns (as well as personal sleep patterns) are usually a bit disrupted for a few days after the time change. Those who forgot to set their clocks back may be running late for work or school on Monday morning, especially student drivers since many high schools in our area start around 7 a.m.

SAFETY TIPS FOR FALL DRIVING

  • Always keep a safety kit in your vehicle consisting of a first aid kit, a flash light, road reflectors, tools, and a blanket or warm clothes
  • Be aware of animals crossing the road
  • Watch for children and pedestrians as the time change affects driving conditions during commuter hours
  • Check Tire pressure as the yo-yo temperature changes can decrease air pressure
  • Always wear a seat belt and position your set with the proper distance between your body and the steering wheel. This will allow for full deployment of the airbag in the event of an accident.
  • Don’t drive over or park above a pile of leaves. When parked, the heat from your engine can cause a fire if there are leaves under your vehicle.  Leaves in the roadway can become wet and slippery causing a danger whilst driving


CONTACT TAMPA BAY AREA CAR CRASH LAWYERS

Whether you’re driving, walking, or bicycling, take extra care on the roadways in the coming weeks. If you or someone you know is injured in an accident around the end of Daylight Saving Time, call the Dolman Law Group at (727)451-6900 for a free consultation. Our investigative team can determine whether driver fatigue or distraction may have caused the accident, and whether a claim of negligence may be pursued.

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


http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/automobile-accidents/

0.0/60votes
Voting statistics:
RatePercentageVotes
60%0
50%0
40%0
30%0
20%0
10%0

Product Recalls of the Week October 20th – 25th

“ProductFrom patio furniture sets to baby shoes, this week we have some more products to warn you about that you may have in your home. Carefully read over each product’s description to determine whether or not it could be posing a threat to your family. Come back at the end of every week for a brief overview of some of the most current recalls. 

Consumer Products


Dimension’sSling Café” fabric table and chairs set due to a missing metal washer plate which is missing and may cause the chair to break posing a fall hazard to consumers. These products will have been manufactured December 2013 through May 2014 and purchased for about $400.

Xylem’sLow Water Cut-Off” control units for hot water or steam boilers due to the possibility of incorrectly assembled wires which may cause an electrical short posing the risk of fire and explosion hazards. These products will have been manufactured between here and here and the item will have a serial number of this and will include the model number/name of this.

First Impressions’ high-top, soft-soled sneakers for infants due to a small metal piece that can detach from the shoe which may be obtained by the infant posing a choking hazard. These products will have “blue denim soles and uppers, brown canvas tongues, tan shoe laces and white polyurethane toes.”

Motor Vehicles


Acura’sTLX AWD” vehicles due to incorrect values for the GVWR and GAWR which may cause an important to exceed the true vehicle limits posing an increased risk for crash.

GM’s “2013 & 2014 Vehicle Line: Cadillac: CTS, Escalade (ESV) – Chevrolet: Suburban, Tahoe, Express, Impala, Silverado HD, Traverse – GMC: Yukon (XL), Acadia, Savana, Sierra HD – Buick: Enclave” due to the chassis electronic module being internally contaminated which may cause an electrical short posing the risk of stalling and causing a crash.

Jeep’s “Wrangler” vehicles due to a potential corrosion in the heated power mirrors which may cause an electrical short posing the risk of fire.

Foods, Medicines, and Cosmetics


Bailey Farms’Fresh Serrano Chile Peppers” food products due to the possibility of contamination by salmonella which may infect the consumer posing a serious health threat. These products will have been purchased between October 2nd, 2014 and October 21st, 2014.

Assured’sNaproxen Sodium” tablets due to a packaging mix-up which may have led consumers to purchase the wrong drug posing unexpected and unwarranted effects. These products will have a serial number of #122368/UPC#639277223685.

JFC International Inc’sHapi” brand pudding due to an undeclared milk ingredient which may cause those allergic to milk to suffer an allergic reaction posing a serious health threat. These products will have been manufactured between here and here and the item will have a serial number of this and will include the 3-pack, 8.46oz clear plastic containers with orange and white seals on the top.

Dolman Law Group


CONTACT OUR CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA PRODUCT LIABILITY ATTORNEYS 

Companies don’t want to hurt us! We need their services and they need our money—it’s a win-win! There is always a possibility, however, that something a company is producing is causing harm to a consumer. Large companies do a great job of pulling dangerous products off the shelf if necessary, but sadly, sometimes someone has to be injured before the company becomes aware of any threat. If you or a loved one has suffered from physical, emotional, or monetary losses due to regular consumer use of a product, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t hesitate to call Clearwater, Florida’s Dolman Law Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation. We operate out of Clearwater but we serve the entire state of Florida; there’s nothing to lose!

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
727-451-6900

Contact us with our Online Form

Practice Area: Product Liability Reference: Recalls.Gov
0.0/60votes
Voting statistics:
RatePercentageVotes
60%0
50%0
40%0
30%0
20%0
10%0

Can You Ride a Bike on the Sidewalk in Florida?

“bikeToday I read a status update on Facebook that a friend of mine posted. According to this post, they were apparently ‘almost ticketed’ for riding a bike on the sidewalk (they live in Florida). It’s always a confusing subject, because bikes are some of the most simple type of personal conveyance, but also one of the most advanced forms of human-powered transportation; they create a sort of “half-pedestrian, half-vehicle” scenario. That can bring up the often-stumping question: “is riding a bike on Florida sidewalks illegal?” Well; let’s delve deeper into the topic and see what we can find out!

Is It TECHNICALLY Illegal?

Simply put, yes. In Florida, it’s legally stated that a bicycle is a vehicle; the above statement I made in the opening paragraph about being ‘half of each’ is me being literal, not legally correct. With that said, the operator of the aforementioned vehicle is considered—by law—a driver, and will therefore be held to the same laws, expectations, and punishments.

At the same time, however, bicycles (when not being propelled by a motor and are purely human powered) are treated as a form of pedestrians but must yield the right-of-way to on-foot travelers. So are you really telling me that there’s a limbo? Maybe my “half of each” statement is true! Eh… there’s one more very important factor that changes everything; local municipality authority.

That’s right; the local authorities of each city can decide their own methods of handling bicycle traffic. As long as it’s “under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power”, it’s totally legal for a member of law enforcement to stop, ticket, or question you for riding on a sidewalk if they feel reason to. My friend could have very well gotten a ticket in this situation!

Is There A Good Reason To Regulate This?
There are plenty of reasons for it to be up to the local authorities to decide. What is the main reason? No 2 cases are the same; one person might have been riding on the sidewalk because they felt endangered on a busy main road; another person might have been riding on a pedestrian-replete sidewalk when they main road has an empty bike lane! These differing situations put 2 completely different parties at risk, so to give an authoritative figure the ability to judge who was wrong leads to much safer roadways.

Dolman Law Group


CONTACT OUR CLEARWATER & TAMPA BAY AREA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS 

Unfortunately, distracted driving and other activities that steal the attention of motor vehicle operators cause accidents all of the time. An innocent driver may strike a reckless biker with dangerous habits; a biker may hit a pedestrian on the sidewalk and cause an injury. Regardless of your situation, if you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligence you may be eligible for compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater, Florida. Dolman Law Group offers you a free consultation and case evaluation so don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
727-451-6900

Contact us with our Online Form

Practice Area: 
Personal Injury

0.0/60votes
Voting statistics:
RatePercentageVotes
60%0
50%0
40%0
30%0
20%0
10%0

Put Down your Cell Phone when Driving


Texting and DrivingJust this morning on my way to work, I watched a young teenage driver texting on her phone while driving. However, the texting while driving was not what shocked me the most. What shocked me the most was the fact that this teenager was texting with both hands while driving. I can only assume that while her eyes and hands were on her phone, the entire car was being operated by her knee. Needless to say, I switched lanes to provide as much space between us as possible.

It’s no surprise that people use their phones while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seventy one percent of teens and young people admit to having sent a text message while operating a motor vehicle. Furthermore, seventy eight percent of teens and young people admit to having received text messages while driving. Distracted driving has become a theme among accident victims in Florida. With technology increasing each day, it isn’t difficult to understand how distracting a cellular phone can be. Between changing the song on your I-phone or sending a text to a friend, drivers are taking their eyes off the road and onto their phone.

According to statistics released by the US Government’s Website for distracted driving, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes in 2012 was 3,328. Moreover, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. Five seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are off the road while texting; this is enough time to cover the length of a football field! As in most cases, statistics do not lie. Distracted driving is quickly becoming one of the biggest reasons for auto accidents.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PREVENT DISTRACTED DRIVING


It’s highly unlikely that distracted driving will ever be completely eliminated, especially with how tempting it is to check your cellphone on a long drive. However, the first step to limiting the number of distracted drivers is to make a personal covenant not to use your phone while driving. With most new cars being equipped with Bluetooth capabilities, drivers should take advantage of these types of devices. If your car does not have one, you should invest in a blue tooth yourself, which could be the only investment you will ever make that can truly save your life. If you’re expecting a very important text or call, pull to the next stopping area to check your phone. No call or text is worth losing a life over.

Aside from making a personal decision to yourself, you should also be very cautious of distracted drivers around you. It is not hard to spot someone who is using their phone while driving; just look for the driver who has his head face down. When you come across a distracted driver, give them an appropriate amount of space in order to prevent any collisions with their vehicle. You should also navigate your car to the safest area and contact local police. No one likes being the person who tells on another, but a phone call under these circumstances may be what it takes to save someone’s life.

Lastly, statistics show that drivers in their 20s make up twenty seven percent of distracted drivers in fatal crashes. Thus, you should advise your children, friends and family of how dangerous it is to use their phones while operating a vehicle. Cars are no joke so you shouldn’t treat them as such. Next time you are driving, refrain from looking at your phone!

CONTACT BAY AREA DISTRACTED DRIVING ATTORNEYS


If you have been involved in a car accident due to the negligence of a distracted driver, contact the Dolman Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. Dolman Law has a team of experienced and aggressive attorneys who advocate for the rights of injured motorists on a daily basis.

DOLMAN LAW GROUP
800 N. Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765
(727) 451-6900

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/distracted-drivers/
6.0/61vote
Voting statistics:
RatePercentageVotes
6100%1
50%0
40%0
30%0
20%0
10%0