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How much is my Accident Case Worth?

“car In a previous blog, I discussed why victims of motor vehicle accidents should hire an attorney. Perhaps you’ve just been involved in a motor vehicle accident wherein you were stopped at a red light, when the vehicle behind you slammed into your rear-end. Your neck and back hurt; maybe your face is scratched or burned from the airbag opening due to the impact. You are disoriented, in pain, and probably quite confused. Why didn’t they hit their brakes? Or maybe you were proceeding through an intersection with a green light, when an oncoming vehicle attempted to “beat the light,” failed, and came directly into your right of way without allowing you enough time to avoid a collision.

Immediately post-accident, you will possibly be checked out by paramedics, should they come to the scene. Speak to the police to help them fill out their report. Perhaps you will be taken by ambulance to a hospital, or you or your family will take you to an urgent care facility to be further evaluated by a medical doctor. As discussed previously, you should consult, and likely hire, an attorney to ensure that your injuries are justly compensated by the other driver’s (and often your own) insurance company.

However, determining just how much any particular case is worth is a difficult endeavor. Insurance companies and, at a later time in your case, juries tend to evaluate your case based on many factors, the most common and basic I will discuss below.

WHO CAUSED THE ACCIDENT

The first consideration is who is “at fault” or where liability lies. Florida is a Comparative Negligence state, which means that a person’s responsibility for an accident essentially acts as a determining factor in how much of the damage caused in an accident that person is responsible for. In an accident where a party is found to be 60% at fault for $20,000.00 worth of damages, they will only be financially responsible for 60% of $20,000.00, or $12,000.00.

Next insurance companies and juries consider whether you, the Plaintiff, have had similar injuries in the past. While previously suffering from or even receiving a settlement for, the same or similar injuries does not act as a bar to recovery, it does act to limit the amount of value an injury (or “aggravation” as the Insurance Defense industry describes it) carries.

HOW BAD WAS THE CRASH?

Finally, the most important factor is the actual damage or injury sustained. Certain injuries are more “valuable” than others. This is because some injuries cause longer, more permanent impairments, or having longer more painful recoveries associated with them. Or, in some cases, a full recovery can never truly be had. A personal injury Plaintiff incurs medical bills in the process of treating for his/her injuries. The size, reasonableness, and whether the treatment is related to the injuries in question, all play a role in the value determination made by insurance companies and juries. A Plaintiff that merely receives massage therapy for a single disc bulge has not incurred the same amount of damage as a Plaintiff that underwent a multi-level disc fusion or some other invasive surgery.

There are a multitude of factors that affect the value of your personal injury lawsuit. In fact, even the quality of attorney that a Plaintiff hires to represent them can greatly affect the outcome of their case. That is why it is of the utmost importance that a personal injury claimant (and eventual Plaintiff) carefully vets their choice for representation. Not only will the attorney hired be the best person to help evaluate your case from an objective position, but who they are will also play a role in the amount of value placed on your case by the insurance company and eventually, a jury.

CONTACT TAMPA BAY AREA PERSONAL INJURY AND CIVIL TRAIL FIRM 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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What Does a Personal Injury Attorney Need to Properly Evaluate my Case?

“car The age-old adage “hindsight is 20/20” tends to hold true in life as well as in personal injury cases. Oftentimes clients tell me they wish they would have known the significance of taking certain action after being the victim of a car crash. It is important to realize that after you are involved in a car crash, the insurance company commences an investigation immediately. I constantly encounter situations where a person is the victim of a car crash in the morning and a mere hour later is receiving numerous phone calls from the insurance company requesting a recorded statement. Navigating conversations with the at-fault party’s insurance company and even your own insurance company can be complicated and overwhelming. That is why speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after suffering any type of personal injury is imperative. There are also several critical pieces of information that you should remember when pursuing your claim to maximize your recovery.

PHOTOS OF YOUR VEHICLE & YOUR INJURIES

Pictures really are worth a thousand words. Few things can illustrate the significance of a crash or of the injuries you’ve suffered like a good photograph. Don’t depend on police officers, your insurance company, or anyone else to take photographs for you. With technology today, the camera on your cell phone can ensure that those images are captured immediately following the incident. In addition, you should take photos of your vehicle from different angles in order to best demonstrate the extent of the damage. Documenting your physical injuries immediately after the incident is also important. Bruises, abrasions and other evidence of physical injuries may fade over time and be relatively non-existent by the time your case goes to trial. Photographs documenting the severity of your injuries and the healing process you underwent in a timeline can be very powerful evidence down the road in your case.

DOCUMENTATION & RECORD KEEPING

Keeping important documents is crucial, especially if you find yourself in a position where you do not hire an attorney immediately following an accident. Maintain a record of people you spoke with or who you may have given a recorded statement to and the names of any witnesses to the crash. Oftentimes following a collision things move so quickly that a client may give a recorded statement regarding the details of the crash without giving much consideration to how that statement might affect his or her case in the future. Having an attorney immediately following an accident to help navigate you through these initial phases of a case will put your mind at ease.

OPEN COMMUNICATION & CANDOR

Of course, the attorney-client relationship is based on maintaining open lines of communication. That means, it’s important to be upfront and honest with your attorney about your case, your injuries and any prior history you may have. Keeping information from your attorney that you feel might be harmful to your case is never a good idea. For starters, whatever information you shield from your attorney will undoubtedly be discovered by the insurance company and/or defense attorney. Moreover, intentionally distorting your past thwarts your attorneys ability to properly pursue you case. Taking the time to sit down with your attorney and thoughtfully answer questions about prior accidents, medical conditions or past injuries you sustained will allow your attorney to formulate the best strategy for maximizing your recovery.

As the client, you have the ability to positively influence the ultimate outcome of your case. This can be done simply by being prompt to meetings and doctor’s appointments. Insurance companies will attempt to “poke holes” at your case in any way possible. Things like missing a doctor’s appointment and having a gap in medical treatment allows the defense to easily argue against compensating you for your injuries. Being forthcoming with your attorney and asking questions about the process when you need guidance will also help in successfully litigating your case. At Dolman Law Group, we handle a variety of personal injury cases and have both the experience and resources to pursue your claim. For more information call 727-451-6900.

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


http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/personal-injury/

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What do I do if my Child was Injured by a Window Cord in Pinellas County?

“window Some product recalls make big headlines because of their dangerous nature. The major General Motors recall comes to mind where people driving GM cars got into accidents and suffered injuries as a result of a defective ignition switch. This has led to multiple lawsuits against the automobile manufacturing company. However, one dangerous product that does not get a lot of attention even though it is one of the most common household items is the window cord. While they may be unassuming in appearance, defective window cords can cause children to become entangled and cause strangulation.

Two families in Utah lost daughters because of this very problem. In a report done by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it was found that at least 140 children have died, 136 of who were strangled, from getting tangled in window cords between 1999 and 2011, averaging one child death per month because of a window cord accident. These tragic deaths have led to the formation of the nonprofit Parents for Window Blind Safety (PWBS), a group formed to raise awareness of the potential dangers defective window cords can cause to our children.

If you cannot afford to get cordless window fixtures installed in your home, you should consider moving all cribs, toy chests, beds, and any other easily accessible furniture away from low-hanging window cords to prevent the likelihood of your child becoming entangled. If your home has blinds that were manufactured before 2000, there may be a higher risk that you have the window cords that are prone to tangling children. If this is the case, the CPSC recommends calling the Window Covering Safety Council at 1-800-506-4636 for a free repair kit for those types of blinds.

If your child has been injured by a defective blind cord, you may be entitled to compensation by making a defective product liability claim.

TYPES OF DEFECTIVE PRODUCT LIABILITY CLAIMS

Defectively manufactured products: this happens when a product is manufactured with a defect, meaning that the factory making it was negligent and the defective batch of products is completely different from the properly manufactured products.

Defectively designed products: this occurs when a product is designed in such a way that causes problems with the intended use of the product. The defect is not caused by the manufacturing of the product, all products will have the defect due to the design.

Failure to warn: this occurs when manufacturers fail to place a warning label on their product that alerts the consumer of the inherent dangers and risks the consumer will take when using the product. If the required warning is not placed on the product, it is considered “failure to warn.”

CONTACT CLEARWATER PRODUCT LIABILITY ATTORNEYS DOLMAN LAW GROUP

If your child was injured due to a defective window cord, you may eligible to compensation by filing a defective design product liability claim. This is because the window cord’s design allows it to easily be pulled down and formed into a loop, creating an extremely dangerous entanglement hazard to children who may not know better or be able to get themselves out of the situation once tangled.

Our experienced team of product liability attorneys at Dolman Law Group has a proven track record of helping our clients get the compensation they deserve. We have the resources to take on the largest manufacturers and insurance companies, and are not afraid to do so. Contact our attorneys today for a free and confidential consultation today at 727-451-6900 or via our online contact form.

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

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/product-liability/
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I’ve Lost my Home in a Fire, What do I do?

house fireFires can be a devastating disaster and completely life changing. All of your possessions can be destroyed in an instant, and leave you and your family homeless. Fires that destroy homes can be started on purpose by an arsonist, by natural causes like a wild fire, or by an accident like a grease fire, careless smoking, cooking accidents, candles, and faulty wiring or defective electronics. While families may reeling from the disaster that a fire can wreak upon one’s life, it is important to take action as soon as possible to salvage what is left and begin the process of recovering and getting back up on your feet.

STEPS TO TAKE WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY AFTER A FIRE
  1. Get an advance: If you had to evacuate your home and did not have time to grab any essentials, ask your insurance company for an advance against your eventual claim. You will not have to file not have to file a claim for this and a check can be brought to you so you can purchase the necessities such as clothes to wear to work and hygienic products.
  2. Secure your property: All policies require you to take all appropriate steps to minimize the damage to your property, or “mitigate damages.” Ways you can do this after suffering fire damage are:

    • Stop the fire from smoldering by making sure the fire department helps you with the steps to take to prevent a flare up.
    • Seal up your property by boarding up the doors and windows and any other openings. You may also want to consider erecting a fence or barrier around your house as well. This prevents vandals from coming in and causing further damage.
    • Keep a constant eye on the property to make sure new problems haven’t surfaced and people have not caused any more damage.

  3. File your claim right away: The first step you need to take is notifying your agent about the damage either by phone or email. After that you will be asked to file “proof of loss claim,” meaning that you will have to itemize a list of property that was damaged or destroyed and their value.
  4. Make sure the insurance company does their job: Insurance companies are required to act promptly, and if there is no dispute to your claim, keep on them to compensate you in a timely manner. If you fail to do this, your claim may fall to the bottom of the pile and your road to recovery may take way longer than imagined.
  5. Keep track of your living expenses: Your policy will most likely include a “loss of use” clause, which will reimburse you for living expenses while you are not living in your home. However, you are only entitled to additional living expenses, meaning that you can only recover if you are spending more than what you would usually spend when living at home.
CONTACT CLEARWATER LAW FIRM DOLMAN LAW GROUP

Insurance companies are for-profit entities that are more concerned about their bottom line than protecting their customers. If your home has suffered fire damage, it is crucial for you to sit down with an attorney and go over your policy to maximize your benefits.

If your fire claim has been delayed, denied, or disputed by your insurance carrier, it is important to hire an insurance lawyer as soon as possible. You may be dealing with an insurance company looking to take advantage of you and violate your rights. Dolman Law Group will aggressively fight to make sure you are properly treated by your carrier. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation on your claim at 727-451-6900 or via our online contact form.

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

http://www.dolmanlaw.com/practice-area/insurance-bad-faith/

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An Analysis of PIP Suits and Florida PIP Law

What is a PIP suit?

First, most people do not readily understand what a "PIP suit” is. Often, it gets confused with personal injury cases that most are familiar with. In a typical personal injury case an injured party sues another party for damages caused by the negligence of another party. Typically this is referred to as tort law.

"PIP" suits are governed under Florida statute 627.736 with a statute of limitations of 5 years. "PIP" stands for personal injury protection and in "no-fault states" like Florida; it is required insurance coverage through your personal auto insurance company.

Essentially, when you are involved in a car accident, PIP pays 80% of your medical expenses, lost wages and other incidentals up to the required $10,000.00. The legislative purpose behind the "no fault" statute is to allow for expeditious medical treatment regardless of who was at fault. In other words, if not for the "no fault provision," an injured party would have to wait for a Court of Law to determine and opine on liability before an insurance carrier would tender payment for medical services rendered. In such a scenario, physicians would be hesitant to evaluate and offer treatment to an individual injured as a result of an automobile accident due to the inordinate wait to receive payment for services rendered.  Additionally, such a scenario would create a serious logjam and delay in cases reaching trial.  In turn, this would create an impermissible burden for consumers seeking recourse if physically injured.

What is the need for PIP suits?

So, why the need for PIP suits? In theory, an insured party would be involved in a car accident and seek treatment for his injuries. The medical provider in turn bills the insurance company to pay off the medical bills incurred under "PIP". Again in theory, the insurance company will reimburse the medical provider after receiving the bills and everyone is happy. Not so fast. Why are there thousands of PIP claims filed in our courts every year? Easy. In some cases the insurance carriers delay or deny payment of the bills for valid reasons such as falsehoods contained in an insurance application or due to the insured failing to comply with their insurance policy (i.e., submitting to an independent medical examination with a physician selected by the insurance carrier following an automobile accident). When this occurs, a medical provider has the right to go after the insurance company to pay such bills in order to be properly reimbursed for services rendered.

Claims range from a few hundred dollars to as much as several thousand dollars. The legislature allows medical providers a cause of action in this case under FL. STAT 627.736. In a situation as described, a medical provider may retain the services of competent legal counsel to handle the matter and collect what is due and owing. In many cases, medical providers are not aware that they may seek action against these insurance companies. It is common for these medical providers to have hundreds of bills that were either partially paid by the insurance companies or not paid at all. Essentially, this adds up to thousands of dollars sitting unpaid within their files.

PIP suits have come under fire by insurance carriers who tend to focus on cases wherein a plaintiff lawyer has filed a lawsuit on what they may deem is a nominal amount (an example would be a lawsuit filed over a reduction of a few dollars).  Florida insurance carriers such as United Automobile Insurance; will cry foul and characterize the PIP suit lawyers as greedy.  They have attempted to portray plaintiff lawyers as the reason why insurance premiums continue to rise.  This is a complete fallacy.  What these same insurance carriers fail to state, is that they many reductions are for far greater sums that a dollar. It is much easier to focus on the most egregious cases, and then paint all attorneys with one brush.  Further, they also fail to explain that a small reduction of even a few cents multiplied by thousands upon thousands of claims results in a big savings for the insurance carrier.  There is a reason behind every decision the insurance carrier makes.  Their sole purpose is to maintain and increase profitability for their shareholders.

How we can help

Hiring competent legal counsel to handle your PIP claims is effortless. Since statute of limitations on these cases are 5 years, we can go back and demand that the insurance companies pay the bills that they were contracted to pay through PIP. The legislature did even better by providing that attorney fees be paid to the prevailing party. This allows a medical provider to not invest money into their accounts receivable to get money that is OWED to them. We do all the work and the insurance carrier pays our legal fees should we prevail. Every medical provider that submits payment under PIP should have a competent legal office with PIP experience ready to demand payments from the insurance carriers.

We will happily come to your office and audit all paperwork and billing records to locate potential PIP claims. Our audit is free of charge and we will handle the entire process from demand all the way through lawsuit, if necessary.  Further, we do not charge the medical provider for our services at any point.  Many law firms charge the medical provider a percentage of the benefits aside from the statutory attorney fee earned.   At Dolman Law Group, we agree to only accept the attorney fees provided under Florida Statute.  We have no interest in taking your piece of the pay.  In fact, our firm refuses to take even a penny of the benefits owed to the medical provider.

The types of PIP cases we handle

Dolman Law Group represents medical providers such as Chiropractors, Orthopedic Surgeons, Physiatrists, TMJ specialists, and MRI facilities throughout the State of Florida.

In accordance with the amended Florida PIP statute, we handle any and all cases wherein an insurance carrier caps no-fault benefits at $2500 due to their determination that an emergency medical condition (EMC) does not in fact exist.  EMC is a term of art created by the Florida legislature in 2013. EMC had been extensively analyzed in previous Dolman Law Group articles.  If an insurance carrier has capped benefits at $2500 due to a determination of a lack of an EMC, we will happily review the file.  Several Florida insurance carriers, including Progressive have retained Florida physicians to perform a peer review of medical records. A peer review (in the context of PIP billing) is a process in which a physician retained by the insurance carrier simply reviews the records and generally rubber-stamps a determination that an EMC does not exist.   We have yet to see a peer review end in a favorable outcome for a claimant.  Further, the peer review physician retained by the insurance carrier never physically examines the claimant.

We also routinely handle IME (independent medical examination) suspension of benefits, as well as improper reductions in accordance with the Florida PIP statute.

- Christian Myer, Esq.

Christian Myer, Esq., focuses his practice on first-party and third-party insurance litigation, insurance carrier bad faith claims practices and auto accident litigation. Mr. Myer serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law where he teaches trial advocacy. He presently handles legal matters in Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Largo, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Tampa, New Port Richey, Bradenton and Sarasota. For more information on a Clearwater personal injury attorney, please contact: christian@dolmanlaw.com

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