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When Unkempt Landscaping Leads to Liability: Injuries Caused By Obstructed Traffic Control Devices in Florida

These days, Floridians are spending more and more time on the roadways commuting to and from work and other activities. While we do so, it is always nice to see aesthetically pleasing landscaping. Palm trees and other foliage often enhances the natural beauty surrounding Florida's roadways. But what happens when beautiful landscaping obstructs the view of a traffic light or stop sign and endangers drivers on the road? In that situation, the outcome can be tragic. If you are injured as the result of a collision because you failed to see a stop sign due to unkept shrubbery, do you have any legal recourse? In Florida, the answer is yes.

landscapingConsider the following scenario: you are driving down the road and are suddenly t-boned on driver's side of your vehicle. The cause of the collision becomes readily apparent—there was a stop sign that required you to stop and check that the roadways were clear; however, that stop sign was obstructed by foliage growing from a tree planted on the property of a homeowner adjacent to the roadway. So who is to blame for such a situation? Is it the homeowner who allowed the shrubbery to go unchecked? Is it the municipality for failing to take action to correct the situation? While each case varies based on circumstances, both parties could potentially be liable.

In Florida, courts have stated that the users of a public right-of-way have a right to expect that it will not be unreasonably obstructed. Morales v. Costa, 427 So. 2d 297 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983). Accordingly, a private person may be held liable for damages caused by an obstruction upon a public way. Id. If a landowner fails to trim back landscaping that interferes with the public's use and enjoyment of the roadways and causes serious injury to drivers, he/she should be held responsible.

By the same reasoning, the city or county responsible for maintaining its roadways can also be held responsible. The liability of a city or county is based upon the duty to maintain its streets and the adjacent real property in a reasonably safe condition. See Armas v. Metro Dade County, 429 So. 2d 59 (Fla. 3d DCA 1983). The obligation of the city or county includes the duty to repair bumps in the roadway caused by roots from trees that extend from adjacent properties. See Sullivan v. Silver Palm Properties, Inc., 558 So. 2d 409 (Fla. 1990).

In Sullivan, the Supreme Court of Florida recognized that a municipality can be held responsible for injuries caused by a driver who loses control of his vehicle due to bumps in the roadway caused by tree roots. What the Sullivan court refused to do, however, was to attach liability to the landowner of the property where the tree was planted. In doing so, the court held that landowners had no duty to retard the subterranean root growth of its trees. In reaching this conclusion, the court distinguished between the responsibility of a landowner to maintain its landscaping so as to not obstruct traffic devices—a responsibility which comports with sound reasoning—and the burden that would be imposed on a landowner to maintain subterranean root growth.

Contact Dolman Law Group

Unfortunately, while the law requiring landowners to properly maintain their premise is quite clear, often times this obligation goes ignored. The result can lead to hazardous conditions on the roads. If you are injured as the result of an obstructed traffic control device, you need an attorney with the knowledge of this area of the law to assist you in navigating your claim. Issues surrounding determining the liability of the applicable parties can be complex. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group have this knowledge and can help you protect your rights. Call 727-451-6900 for more information.

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

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/premises-liability/

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Who in Clearwater is texting while Driving?

woman texting and drivingThe development of the cell phone has been both a blessing and a curse. One can make a phone call, send a text message, check email, listen to music, take a picture, record a video, read the news, watch a YouTube video, video chat with someone across the world, etc., etc., all with a device that fits in your pocket. However, this technology has also increased the need for people to be connected to the internet and each other at all times. People carry their phones everywhere they go, constantly checking for any new notifications. We are constantly distracted, and this has never been more evident than when looking at the numbers of texting while driving accidents. At our Clearwater personal injury law firm Dolman Law Group, we see the consequences of these accidents and fight to hold the negligent parties responsible.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING STATISTICS
  • In 2011, 23 percent of automobile accidents involved cell phones, causing 1.3 million crashes
  • When you text and drive, it takes a minimum of five seconds of your attention off the road. If you are travelling at 55 M.P.H., that is the length of a football field.
  • Text messaging makes an accident 23x more likely, dialing your phone increases your risk 2.8x, reaching for your phone 1.4x, and talking on the phone 1.3x
TEXTING WHILE DRIVING WIDESPREAD AMONGST THE YOUTH

82 percent of American teenagers age 16-17 own cell phones at the time they begin driving on their own. This, coupled with the widespread popularity of social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat amongst teens today, means that they will have to deal with these distractions at the same time they are learning the ways of the road. Here are some more number to show just how widespread the problem is:
  • 13 percent of drivers between 18 and 20 years old admitted to texting or talking at the moment they were involved in an accident.
  • 52 percent of American teenagers age 16-17 say they have talked on a cell phone while driving.
  • 34 percent of American teenagers age 16-17 say they have texted while driving.
  • 77 percent of young adults are confident drive or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving.
  • 55 percent of young adult drivers believe that they can safely text and drive no problem.
  • 1 in 5 drivers admit to surfing the web on their phones while driving.
ADULTS NOT SETTING RIGHT EXAMPLES
  • 48 percent of young drivers have seen their parents talk on the phone while driving.
  • 27 percent of adults have sent or received text messages while driving.
  • 15 percent of young drivers have seen their parents text while driving.
CONTACT PINELLAS COUNTY PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM DOLMAN LAW GROUP

In the greater Tampa Bay area, traffic is at an all time high. So is cell phone use. Unfortunately, when these two meet, people get hurt. At Dolman Law group, our experienced team of distracted driving attorneys are dedicated to holding negligent parties responsible. We understand the danger of using a cell phone while driving and the harm it can cause. Florida lawmakers making texting while driving a secondary offense is a step in the right direction, but it is not doing enough. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a driver texting while driving, please call us at 727-451-6900 or email matt@dolmanlaw.com for a free consultation.

Statistics used found here.

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

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/distracted-drivers/

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Reports of Sexual Assault on the Rise at College Campuses

If you are the parent or guardian of a college student, the recent case of two University of Miami football players accused of raping a 17-year-old in a dorm room is chilling to think about. Nine out of 10 rape victims are women, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, and those under the age of 30 are at the greatest risk. Even more terrifying: 93% of young victims of sexual assault knew their attackers. On college campuses and other places with a large young adult population, the term “date rape” is unfortunately prevalent. Awareness leads to prevention and although the facts and statistics may be horrifying, it is important to understand rape and sexual assault and how to prevent them so you can feel safer about your college-aged children as they leave home.

sexual assaultDate rape and “acquaintance rape” both indicate that the victim was familiar with their attacker before the incident occurred. Both are particularly frightening, because the situation may begin with innocent fun and familiarity. Unfortunately, the addition of drugs or alcohol can turn an innocent party into a dangerous situation very quickly, especially with younger students who have little experience with parties, alcohol, and the opposite sex – a volatile combination. The relationship between such substances and date rape is why this form of assault is so prominent around college campuses, and why many victims of date rape are younger.

To raise date rape awareness, it is important to be aware of the techniques that would-be rapists often use. Alcohol alone can lead to a lack of motor functioning, confusion, or a loss of inhibition, but he addition of incapacitating substances, often referred to as “date rape” drugs, can intensify and hasten the reaction. Common date rape drugs, described in detail in womenshealth.gov, include rohypnol, commonly called “roofies,” Ketamine, and GHB. These drugs are available as liquids, powder, or pills that dissolve in liquid, making it simple to surreptitiously slip them into a victim’s drink. Effects can kick in relatively quickly after the drugging occurs, and include distorted perception, relaxation or drowsiness, loss of muscle control and other movements, and can lead to loss of consciousness, or blacking out. Larger doses can also lead to coma or death. Distortion and other similar effects make a victim more susceptible to rape, as they may not be aware of what is happening, or not have the control to defend themselves.

Protecting your child against date rape includes educating them on the dangers of alcohol and drug impairment, even if they are considered old enough to take care of themselves. Even if your child is of legal drinking age, be sure they are aware of date rape drugs, and know not to leave their drink unattended. Some straws and cups are being developed that can detect the addition of drugs in liquids, but these are not yet readily available. Encourage your student to employ the buddy system, attending social events with trusted friends. Teach them be alert to potentially dangerous surroundings and get out of any situation that seems toxic. Make sure they know the number of a local cab company, in case they need to get away from a party or club, but don’t want to drive with intoxicated friends.

Victims of Sexual Assault can Contact Dolman Law Group

Victims of sexual assault are often hesitant to make accusations, but the assistance of an experienced sexual assault attorney is vital to receiving the defense and compensation victims deserve for their physical and emotional trauma. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault, schedule a free consultation with the Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900, where sexual assault cases are handled with diplomacy, tact, and confidentiality.

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

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

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Eight Great Summer Safety Tips

Eight Great Summer Safety Tips
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Why Should I Hire an Attorney?

why hire an attorneyYou were stopped at a red light, when suddenly you were struck from behind by a distracted driver. Or, perhaps, you were proceeding through an intersection, and a driver from an oncoming lane tried to make a left hand turn that they failed to judge properly, and your vehicle struck theirs or you were t-boned. Or maybe weather caused another vehicle to lose control and hit yours. Regardless of how it occurred, once you have been involved in an accident, you (the faithful insured) will begin the process of reporting the claim, whether that be for property damage or personal injury protection benefits, (if necessary) to your insurance company.

If you are injured in an accident like the one described above, the insurance company for the other driver might attempt to settle your claim for your injuries with you. Perhaps, if the driver that hit you didn’t have enough insurance, your own insurer will attempt to settle with you as well. In the event that the insurance companies offer you anything (many times they will not, claiming that Personal Injury Protection should be enough to cover your treatment for your injuries) the claims adjuster assigned to your case will offer an explanation for the offer that is being made to you. The reality of the situation, however, is that this offer is based on the insurance company’s view of your injuries and isn’t necessarily grounded in fact.

In actuality, especially if these settlement discussions take place soon after the accident, the amount of medical treatment your injuries will necessitate is completely unknown. Your pain might not respond to chiropractic or orthopedic treatments and you might require more aggressive pain management, or possibly eventually surgery, to treat your pain and symptoms. Unless you, the claimant and loyal insured, work in a medical field, you are unlikely to know what kinds of treatment your injuries will require, and you certainly won’t know for certain how long it will take for your symptoms to subside. In an instance such as this, where you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is important that you or the person negotiating on your behalf understand all of the aspects being considered by the insurance company to devalue your claim. The insurance company may not consider the person who hit you to be entirely at fault for the accident, or they might think that your injuries are related to a previous accident or pre-existing pathology that your diagnostic studies revealed, or perhaps they do not accept that this particular accident was capable of causing your specific injuries. Whatever the justification for the insurance company’s offer, without an advocate on your side to combat the adjuster’s misgivings, you are likely to receive small nominal offers that will never make you whole again after an accident. And that is the entire purpose of filing an injury claim with an insurer after an automobile accident, making you, the victim, whole again.

Contact Dolman Law Group

If you, or someone you know, have been injured in an automobile, motorcycle, or trucking accident, you should consult with a law firm with experience handling automobile accident personal injury claims to ensure that you, the victim, receive the maximum compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, or future loss of income. The Dolman Law Group serves personal injury clients all over the state of Florida from their conveniently located Clearwater office. Call for a case evaluation today at 727-451-6900, and rest assured that our team is ready and willing to take the case as far as necessary to reach an appropriate resolution for your case.

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

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

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