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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 run off the road by a truck that did not stop. Can I recover compensation for the auto accident?

You’re driving along, minding your own business, when out of nowhere the truck to your left crosses into your lane and nearly clips the front end of your car. To avoid hitting him, you swerve onto the shoulder and hit the railing. You come to a stop, cursing the other driver and breathing hard, but relieved that you’re breathing at all. You look ahead, expecting to see the truck’s driver coming to check on you and make sure you’re okay. And all you see is his taillights in the distance. That driver is long gone. So now what?

ran off roadRun-off-road crashes account for over 64% of all single-vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The majority of these crashes are attributed to driver errors, such as overcompensation, distractions, impairment, or driving too fast for road or weather conditions. Even though you know that your accident was caused by another driver’s negligence, proving it won’t be easy. It’s possible that the other driver isn’t even aware that his driving caused you to have an accident. Insurance companies are sometimes dubious of “phantom vehicle” claims which are often made for fraudulent reasons.

The same alertness that kept you from hitting the truck in the first place may help you remember important details. Try to think back to the moments before the accident, as you first became aware of the truck in your peripheral vision. As soon as possible, write down whatever you can remember about it: color, make, model, identifying bumper stickers, even a brief description of the driver or a fragment of the license plate number. Hopefully another driver witnessed the accident and will stop to help you. If so, be sure to find out exactly what they saw, and whether they can give you any details about the truck that caused you to veer off the road.

A passenger in another car may even have been taking pictures or filming at the time of the accident and have valuable evidence of the accident. A statement from an uninvolved third party witness to the accident can provide important corroborating evidence. Report the incident immediately to law enforcement and medical personnel at the scene, giving them as many details as you can, including the names of witnesses, and be sure to tell them that you believe the accident was caused by a truck driver who left the scene. The incident should also be reported in detail to your insurance company.

Pursuing compensation for your damages and injuries caused by this type of accident is a complicated legal process. Be sure to consult with an attorney who is experienced in investigating vehicle accidents.

The Dolman Law Group routinely represents Tampa Bay and Clearwater collision victims, and we understand the complexities of insurance law. We also have the ability to retain highly regarded medical and accident reconstruction experts to obtain maximum compensation for you, and will take your case to trial if an insurance company is not willing to offer a reasonable settlement. Please call the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 to arrange for a free case evaluation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/truck-accident/

 
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How to Avoid a Car Collision while Riding a Bicycle

Remember the good old Golden Rule? Following that adage, bicyclists who treat motorists with respect should expect the same in return from motorists, right?  With the price of gas hovering near $4 per gallon, we are seeing more bicycles on the roads in Florida. Pleasure cyclists abound on the weekends, but particularly when the weather is pleasant, you may notice an increase in weekday bicyclists. Many business people and students are swapping their gas-guzzling cars for the more efficient bicycle. If you’re one of the thousands who have decided to use your bicycle for transportation, you probably know that Florida’s driving laws apply to motorists and bicyclists alike – but many motorists fail to extend basic courtesies to bicyclists.

It is possible to avoid a collision with a car while riding a bicycle, but it requires diligence and patience on the bicyclist’s part. Thousands of miles of paved bicycle paths throughout Florida allow bicyclists to ride freely without encountering motorists, but many bicycle commuters share the roadways with cars, trucks, and motorcycles on a daily basis. You may be able to plan your route to work using lighter traveled roadways, but sometimes riding in traffic is unavoidable. If you must, one of the best things you can do to avoid an accident with a car is to assume that motorists will not see you.

bicyclist in cityMake yourself conspicuous to drivers and increase the likelihood that they will see you. There’s a reason for those neon jerseys that are popular with cyclists – they may not be the most flattering colors on some people, but they certainly are noticeable! If you are commuting to or from work at times when light is dim, lights and reflectors also will make your bicycle more visible to motorists.

Most of the time, bicyclists are required to keep to the right, but only as far as possible to ride safely. Riding in the gutter you may encounter debris or rough pavement that could cause you to swerve into traffic. Otherwise, bicyclists are expected to pass other vehicles and make lane changes and turns just as any other motorist, using right- and left-designated turn lanes when available. When making turns, be sure to use hand signals to alert motorists to your intention. If you intend to go straight through an intersection, ride farther out from the right to make sure motorists see you and keep you out of their blind spot in case they are making a turn themselves. As you approach a car at an intersection, don’t assume that they are using their blinkers properly – make sure that they are (or aren’t) turning, making eye contact with drivers whenever possible.

The other situation which requires a bicyclist to ride away from the right-hand side of the road is when parked cars are present. Pass parked cars in a straight line to their left, and be especially alert for cars pulling out from their space or an opening car door that might hit you or cause you to swerve into traffic. A good rule of thumb is to allow three feet between you and other vehicles at all times.

Contact Dolman Law Group

At the Dolman Law Group, we understand that bicyclists sometimes attempt to negotiate with insurance companies on their own and may end up undercompensated. But our experienced personal injury attorneys represent bicyclists, not insurance companies. We know how to negotiate on behalf of the injured cyclist or their family and will take the case to trial if a just resolution cannot be found otherwise. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle-motor vehicle accident, please contact the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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

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Which Driver is At Fault in an Obstructed View Motorcycle Accident in Florida?

motorcycle accident from obstructed viewYou’ve seen the bumper stickers: “Watch for Motorcycles! They’re everywhere! “or “Look Twice, Save a Life.” It certainly seems true in Florida, especially at this time of year. More than 600,000 motorcycles are registered in the state, and great weather draws thousands more as motorcycle enthusiasts from around the nation flock to numerous motorcycle shows and rallies throughout the year.  With so many motorcycles on the roadways, you’d think motorists would be accustomed to seeing them.  According to the NHTSA, almost 19% of all traffic fatalities are motorcyclists and their passengers, and in many cases the drivers claim that they simply didn’t see the motorcycle.

There are many reasons why motorcycles may be difficult for motorists to see. Even though there are many motorcycles on the road, there are still many, many more cars, making motorcycles the minority. Many drivers in Florida may actually be out-of-state visitors from places where motorcycles are not as prevalent. They are simply not accustomed to sharing the road with motorcycles. Motorcycles are also much smaller than cars, and are easily hidden by other cars, trucks, and roadway obstructions. A driver also might fail to see a motorcycle because their view is blocked by their vehicle’s door frame, headrests, or even their passenger’s head.

Motorcyclists and Defensive Driving

Motorcyclists can improve their odds of remaining safe on their bike by driving defensively, avoiding blind spots and always assuming that other drivers don’t see them. Florida laws require that motorcyclists use headlights at all times, not just at night. Bright-colored and reflective helmets are available, and adding reflective stickers can really increase visibility. Specialty clothing, such as vests and jackets, are available in light, bright, reflective colors and also can be customized with reflective patches or tape to add an extra measure of conspicuity.

Even if a motorcycle driver has done all he can to prevent an accident, there are still instances when motorists may be held responsible for a motorcycle-motor vehicle collision, through distracted driving negligence or allowing obstructions in their vehicle that impair their vision. Florida law requires that a vehicle’s windshield be free of any obstruction that prevents a driver from having a clear view of the roadway and surrounding vehicles. GPS units may be mounted on a windshield in Florida, but any stickers, decals, or non-transparent coverings are prohibited if they impede the driver’s full range of vision. Even a cracked windshield can cause distortion or blind spots, and may prevent a motorist from seeing a nearby motorcycle.

Dolman Law Group

If you are a motorcyclist who has been injured by a driver with an obstructed view, call the Dolman Law Group at (727)451-6900. We are experienced in representing injured motorcycle drivers or riders who have been subjected to unfair treatment by insurance companies, who often assume carelessness or recklessness on the part of the motorcyclist. We understand the special nuances of motorcycle/vehicle accidents and have the resources, willingness, and ability to take your case to trial if necessary.  The insurance company begins their investigation as soon as they know about an accident.  Allow a qualified Clearwater Motorcycle Attorney to begin investigating your most unfortunate accident if you find yourself in need.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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

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Can a Bicyclist Hit by Red-Light Runner in Clearwater Sue for Compensation?

bicycle hit by red light runnerFlorida may be best known as paradise for beach-goers and water sports enthusiasts, but it is also a wonderful place for active cyclists. Covering more than 65,000 square miles, much of it at or near sea-level, the peninsula is known for its scenic coastal flatlands, making bicycle-riding an easy and enjoyable activity for many. Cyclists who wish for more challenging terrain head inland, where gently rolling hills offer more strenuous outings. Free trails for bicycle and pedestrian use have been built and maintained throughout much of the state, offering a safe alternative to street cycling.

Where bike trails are not available, however, bicyclists and motorists often share the same roadways, leading to dangerous consequences. Motorists are protected by seatbelts and surrounded by steel; cyclists are much more at risk of injury, with a helmet possibly being their only real protection. (In Florida, helmets are required for bicyclists under the age of 16, but strongly recommended for everyone.) According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2010, deaths of cyclists accounted for 2% of all fatalities and 2% of all the people injured in motor vehicle crashes. Typical bicyclist injuries included cuts, scrapes, sprains, broken bones, abdominal injuries, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Bicyclists often mistakenly believe that they will be considered at fault in the case of a collision with a motor vehicle. For instance, a bicyclist is hit by a driver who has run through a red light and believes that he is not entitled to compensation, perhaps because he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. As a result many bicyclists who are injured in crashes with vehicles are not properly compensated by insurance companies. In reality, although a helmet is required by Florida law, “Failure of a person to wear a bicycle helmet may not be considered evidence of negligence or contributory negligence.”

The fact of the matter is that in Florida, and in most states, a bicyclist is considered a vehicle, with the same rights and responsibilities as the driver of a motorized vehicle. And vice versa: motorists are required to treat bicyclists with the same courtesies that they would extend to other vehicles. This means that both bicycles and vehicles are required to stop at red lights and stop signs, and the one that doesn’t is in violation of the law. If the red light-runner is distracted by a cell phone, iPod, hot coffee, or DUI, witnesses and accident investigators can usually determine who is at fault.

You can help avoid accidents at intersections by knowing the rules of the road, both the laws specifically written for Florida motor vehicles and for bicyclists. Always wear bright or reflective clothing, and remember that although you have the same rights as a car driver, your bike is considerably smaller than a car and may be more difficult to see. As you ride, be aware of the traffic moving around you, and make sure that drivers can see you!

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a driver’s negligence, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group at (727)451-6900. Our investigative team will review your version of the events that led to the accident and resulting injuries. Do not try to navigate the issue alone contact an experience Florida Personal Injury Attorney so you can be aware of your rights.  We know how to negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of injured bicyclists and will help you recover just compensation from the driver responsible for your injuries.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

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

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What Should I Do If I Was Sexually Assaulted at Work?

sexual harassment at workApril is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to share this information about what to do if you are sexually assaulted at work. Did you know that a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States? Every two minutes. On average, there are 237,868 victims each year; that number has actually decreased by more than half since 1993, but it’s still too many, and according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 60% of assaults go unreported.

The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” When this happens in the workplace, it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, or religion. Retaliation against someone who complains of sexual harassment is also illegal.

Sexual assault does not have to be a physical act; it can also include psychological harassment or sexually oriented conduct or behavior that interferes with an employee’s job performance or creates an uncomfortable or openly hostile work environment. A wide range of acts and behaviors are classified as sexual violence, from joking about rape and displaying inappropriate or pornographic material to groping, fondling, and forced sexual intercourse. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, most sexual harassment cases involve female workers who have been harassed by male co-workers or supervisors, but assaults may committed by both men and women, and by a supervisor, co-worker, or even a visitor or vendor to the workplace. The assault may even occur away from employer premises or during off-work hours. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reported that between 1993 and 1999, there were 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults on U.S. employees, so the one of the first things to realize is that if you’ve been assaulted, unfortunately you’re not alone.

What To Do

If you’re assaulted or harassed in a work-related situation, tell the harasser to stop and get away to a safe location. If the assault was physical in nature, you’ll want to call 911 or the police immediately. Do not shower or change clothes, and go to the hospital emergency room for an examination. Call a trusted friend or family member or ask the hospital for the telephone number of a crisis hotline. If the assault is psychological or repeated harassment, again the first step is to tell the perpetrator that it needs to stop. Write down, in a safe place, all the details of what happened: when; where; how frequently; names of witnesses; any retaliatory action that was taken toward you. Next, file a formal complaint in writing to your supervisor, manager, company owner, or human resources department. You’ll also want to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which would be vital if you plan to file a lawsuit.

Finally, contact a lawyer with experience handling sexual assault cases. The sexual assault attorneys at Dolman Law Group can help. Our staff of experienced sexual assault attorneys and investigators will work to bring the abuser, as well as those responsible for screening and supervising that abuser, to justice. Contact us at (727)451-6900, and rest assured that your confidentiality is our highest priority.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/sexual-assault-attorney/

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