Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Bike Accident Lawyer?

    Jim Dodson Bicycle Accident LawyerMany attorneys are hesitant to talk about their fees. We believe in giving people as much information as possible so that they can make their OWN choices about their legal situation. The reality is, you may not need a lawyer. If we discuss your case and we don’t think you need a lawyer, we will tell you. In fact, we will go further and give you suggestions on how you might consider handling it on your own. Even if you don’t need a lawyer, we will be happy to give you our thoughts on getting your bike frame repaired or replaced all at no cost to you.

    However, if you have a more serious injury, particularly one that will require any type of surgery, it is always in your best interest to hire an attorney. You need to make sure things are done right. That includes reimbursing your health insurance company or Medicare on what they pay out on your behalf. Not getting that right can cause you huge problems later.

    Further, let’s face it, you probably have no experience putting a realistic settlement value on your injury. You’ll be dealing with an insurance company who does it every day. You need a team behind you that has the experience in dealing with insurance companies, understands the true value of your injury, and is comfortable fighting for you in front of the jury if it is required for the best interest of your case.

    How a Contingent Fee Works

    At Jim Dodson Law, our bike crash cases work on a contingent fee basis. Simply put, you don’t pay any fee unless we win. Our compensation is contingent on you getting a settlement you believe is fair. This creates an incentive for us to get the best settlement possible, and it means you don’t have to pay any money up front. I express it this way, “you only get a check, you never write a check.” Period.

    In the vast majority of our cases our fee is only 33%. Lawyers are permitted to increase their fee to 40% if a lawsuit is filed in the Circuit Court and the other side hires a lawyer who files their Answer. We don’t do this. I would never want you to believe there was an incentive for us to file a lawsuit simply to obtain a higher fee. Therefore, our fee will not exceed 33% even if a lawsuit is filed, if your case is settled at the mediation conference. In our experience, even in cases where a lawsuit is filed, about 70% are settled at mediation. We believe that if we can avoid the cost of preparing for trial and find a settlement your thrilled about, we want to pass that cost savings to you.

    What Happens if the Case Doesn't Settle at Mediation?

    If a case does not settle at mediation and requires scheduling a trial date, our fee will rise to the industry standard of 40% to cover the additional time, energy, and significant costs of hiring experts and preparing for trial. Again, these fees depend on winning your case. If there is no recovery, there is no fee. For more information on we encourage you to take a look at our No Promise Fee.

    Think about it this way: can a team that has been handling bike crash cases for decades get you 33% more money than if you try to handle all of this on your own? It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the answer is anything other than YES. Remember, we have no interest in taking a case in which we don’t believe we can help our client achieve a better settlement. If you don’t need an attorney, we will tell you straight-out you could do just as well on your own and even give you our thoughts on how you can accomplish it.

    We are Dedicated to Your Success and are Here to Answer Your Questions

    In our experience, people are very appreciative that we are upfront about the cost of our services and are thankful we can give them free resources that will help them along the way. If you have any questions at all please contact us online, or, if  just want to talk about your case, don’t hesitate to call our office at (888) 207-0905.

  • What is the Law in Florida When a Golf Cart Injures Someone?

    Golf carts were originally designed to be used only on golf courses. For many years, their use was limited to privately owned golf courses and resorts. Today, their popularity has skyrocketed and they may also be found operating on certain public roads and within designated golf communities. Many people remain confused about what rules apply in regards to golf cart accident and injuries.
     
    On the golf course, they are used by golfers as well as by various other golf and resort personnel to run errands and ferry guests from place to place. People operating golf carts in this way are governed by Florida’s general negligence standards. The driver of a golf cart which causes harm to someone may be held liable and financially responsible for any harm they cause if they fail to operate the golf cart with “reasonable care."
    Golf Car Accident Injury Lawyer Jim Dodson


    What Type Of Injuries Can Result From A Golf Cart Accident?

    Some of the most common golf cart related injuries caused by a negligent driver include: 

    What Does Florida Law Say About Golf Cart Injuries?

    Golf carts have been found by courts in Florida to be a dangerous instrumentality capable of causing great bodily harm. For this reason, a golf cart owner is strictly liable for its use. This means the owner will be held legally responsible for the negligence or carelessness of someone using the cart with their permission. The owner may be held strictly liable, whether it is a private person, a golf course or private resort. When the driver’s lack of care causes injury to someone, both the driver and the owner may be held legally responsible for the harm caused in the crash.

    Are Florida Driver License Laws The Same For Driving A Golf Cart?

    In order to operate a golf cart, the driver must be at least 14 years old.  A driver’s license is not required; nor is the golf cart required to be registered with the state, have a license tag or be insured like a car.
     
    Golf carts are limited by state law to a top speed of 20 mph. They may only be operated on specially designated public roads and within certain state parks where they are specifically permitted to do so by law. These roads are found within golf cart communities, mobile home parks and on a limited number of other designated Florida roads. They may only be used from dawn to dusk unless equipped with lights, windshield wipers and other safety features.
     
    When a golf cart is operated on a public road, the driver must obey applicable traffic laws. Florida statutes prohibiting such things as speeding, careless driving, running a stop sign, failure to yield the right of way, improper turning, and driving under the influence. These offenses may be enforced against the driver, and may be evidence of negligence when the driver’s action causes injury to another person.
     
    Florida also recognizes a vehicle similar to a golf cart which is designated as a “neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV)” or “low speed vehicle (LSV).” These are not golf carts as they operate at speeds greater than 20 mph. They are regulated in a similar way as a motor vehicle with requirements including a driver’s license, tag, insurance and standard safety equipment.

    Does Florida Law Require A Golf Cart To Carry Insurance?

    Golf carts which are owned by a golf course or golf resort will typically be insured under a commercial general liability insurance policy.  The policy would cover an employee of the resort operating the cart in addition to covering the resort’s strict liability as owner of the cart. A golfer driving a golf course or resort owned golf cart will typically be insured by their own homeowner’s insurance policy.
     
    Homeowner’s insurance may not always provide liability insurance coverage for injuries caused by a private person using their own cart on a golf course or on an authorized public road. Responsible owners may have purchased a specific golf cart policy which provides liability coverage in these situations.

    Have You Been Injured In A Florida Golf Cart Accident?  

    If you have been injured because of the carelessness or negligence of a golf cart operated on a golf course or on the road, you may be wondering if you have a case. We want to make getting useful information as easy as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 888-207-0905 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We look forward to discussing your potential claim and your legal rights to compensation.

  • I Was Hit As A Pedestrian By A Driver Who Fled The Scene. What Can I Do?

    Hit and run drivers are a menace to Florida pedestrians. There are several reasons why a driver will flee after hitting a pedestrian. They may have no insurance or, even more dangerous, no driver’s license. If a driver was drinking or under the influence or has a warrant for their arrest they will frequently drive away in order to avoid arrest. Regardless of the reasons, fleeing is a cowardly act which leaves you to face your injuries and medical bills on your own.
     

    How Will My Medical Bills Be Paid In A Pedestrian Hit And Run Case?

    Pedestrian Hit And Run Accident

    If you own a vehicle insured in Florida you are required to have No Fault/PIP which pays up to the first $10,000 of your medical bills for injuries received when hit by a vehicle. If you do not own your own vehicle, but live with a family member who does have an insured vehicle, you may be entitled to No-Fault/PIP benefits under their policy.

    There are requirements in order to take advantage of the PIP benefits. The first is that you need to see an approved medical provider within 14 days of your injury. If you receive only chiropractic treatments, your benefits under PIP may be limited to $2500. Your doctor may send you for an evaluation as to whether you have what is known under the PIP statute as an “emergency medical condition.” If a doctor makes a finding you have an emergency medical condition you may be entitled to the entire $10,000 of PIP benefits. Keep in mind PIP pays medical bills. It does not provide cash payments to you for your injuries unrelated to reimbursement of your injury related medical expenses.

    How Will I Be Paid For Pain And Suffering Resulting From A Pedestrian Hit And Run Case?

    If you own a vehicle insured in Florida or are a resident relative of a family member who has an insured vehicle, you would be entitled to compensation under the uninsured/underinsured provisions of that auto policy. The simplest way to confirm whether you have this coverage is to look at the declarations page you received from your car insurance company each year, check your policy online or simply call the insurance company and ask.

    Receiving fair and just compensation after a hit-and-run pedestrian crash can be complicated. You’ll find answers to the most common questions in our popular consumer guide Florida Pedestrian Accident Guide. It is available to download here for free.

    Have You Been Injured In A Pedestrian Hit And Run Case?

    Feel free to contact me online or call me directly at 888-207-0905 for a free, no obligation consultation.

  • In a wrongful death case who is the right family member to hire a lawyer before the Personal Representative is appointed?

    Wrongful Death AttorneyFlorida law is very clear that the personal representative (PR) of the estate of the person who died is given legal authority to hire a lawyer and pursue the wrongful death claim on behalf of all survivors. However, it may take weeks before the order appointing the personal representative is signed by the judge of the Probate Court. The family often needs to make the decision to hire a lawyer before the PR has been appointed in order to investigate the traffic crash or other fatal incident. Who is the right person to engage the lawyer before the personal representative has been appointed?

    The answer may turn on whether the person who died had a will or died without a will. Florida Statute 733.301 offers guidance on who has preference to be named as personal representative. If the deceased had a will it may nominate a specific person to serve as the personal representative of the estate. That person would have first preference to be appointed by the judge as the PR and would be the appropriate person to meet with a lawyer. If the will does not nominate a specific person, the majority of the estate beneficiaries could agree on the person to serve as the personal representative. Otherwise it would fall to the best qualified beneficiary of the will. This person would hire the lawyer for the wrongful death case.

    In situations where the deceased died without a will, the person with first preference to act as the personal representative would be their surviving spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, or if the surviving spouse is not able or qualified to act, the majority of the heirs could agree on the person to be nominated. Otherwise, it could fall to the best qualified heir closest in line to select the lawyer.

    In situations where an agreement is needed on who is best qualified to serve as PR, a meeting of the heirs or beneficiaries ideally would be held with the lawyer. If such a meeting is not feasible, once an agreement is reached on who will serve as the PR, the lawyer may give each beneficiary or heir forms to sign confirming their agreement on the person to be nominated as personal representative.

    The Benefits of Hiring A Wrongful Death Attorney

    The purpose of this system for nominating the personal representative is to have the court name one person with legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. That person has the authority to hire the attorney to pursue the wrongful death claim, approve the filing of any lawsuit and, ultimately, sign any settlement checks and releases. Retaining the wrongful death attorney is a very important decision and it should be done as soon as possible. By identifying who will serve as the PR in a smooth and orderly manner, that person can engage the wrongful death lawyer with confidence. This allows the wrongful death lawyer to be retained before the PR is officially appointed by the court so that he or she can pursue all needed steps to investigate the case at the earliest opportunity.

    If you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.815.6398 to schedule your free consultation.

     

  • What Future Medical Expenses Can Be Considered in My Settlement?

    Calculator, money and a stethescopeIt is very common for treating doctors to tell patients they may need surgery or therapy in the future. As humans, we naturally focus on what the future might bring. With that in mind, what future medical expenses can be considered in sizing up the settlement value of a case?

    The law in Florida is very clear. Only future medical expenses which are “reasonably certain to be incurred in the future” may be considered by a jury. Claims adjusters use the same standard. This requires the doctor to say in their opinion “beyond a medical certainty” future treatment would be required. This means “probably” or “more likely than not” the patient will need the treatment.

    It may sound like a subtle difference between “surgery might be necessary”  or “will be required,” but it is a huge distinction. Treatment which “might” or “could” be necessary in the future does not meet the standard. What we are looking for is for the doctor to say surgery  “will be necessary” or “will probably be required.” When phrased in this way it means the future treatment should be compensated. 

    If you need help following a personal injury please contact us online or call us directly at 727-446-0840 for your free evaluation.

  • If My Car was Totaled in an Accident, Do I Still Need to Make Payments?

    Yes! If your car or truck was totaled in a collision, you need to inform your lender of the incident right away. Your vehicle is the collateral on their loan to you and they have a legal right to know it’s been destroyed. You also need to continue to make any regularly scheduled payments on the vehicle until the entire loan has been paid off.

    It can take several weeks to determine liability for a collision and negotiate a fair price for your vehicle (insurance companies call that price the actual cash value). During that time, you will be responsible for making payments on your loan. Once the actual cash value has been agreed upon and a check has been issued, any payment from the insurance company for the value of the vehicle will be applied to the end of the car loan agreement. This means you are responsible for making all scheduled payments until the amount is completely paid off. You do not get any credit on the front end of the loan.

    If the actual cash value of your vehicle is less than what you owe on your car or truck, GAP insurance coverage (also called loan or lease payoff coverage) purchased through your auto insurance carrier or the dealership where your car was purchased will cover the difference in price. Check the terms of your GAP policy, however, because some only pay up to 25% of the actual cash value towards the price difference. So, even with GAP coverage, you could be left to pay the bill if your vehicle is worth substantially less than the amount you owe.

    For example, if you owe $15,000 on your car loan, but the at-fault driver only had $10,000 in property damage coverage AND you do not have GAP coverage, you must continue making your regularly scheduled payments until you pay off the remaining $5,000.

    Imagine the same example, but with Gap coverage up to 25% of the actual cash value. The GAP coverage would cover $2.500 on top of the $10,000 provided by the property damage coverage. You would be responsible for the balance of $2,500.

    Now, let’s look at the same set of facts but with full GAP insurance. Your GAP insurance will pay the remaining $5,000 on the loan after the property damage coverage provides the initial $10,000.

    If you were injured in a car accident and need an attorney to help you navigate through the rules regarding vehicle repair or replacement and medical treatment, contact our team at 727-446-0840. We offer free consultations to all accident victims.

  • What Happens in a Florida Drunk Driving Personal Injury Case?

    In a personal injury case, the personal injury attorney you hire will handle your case against the drunk driver for damages like your medical expenses and other accident related expenses. The personal injury attorney will communicate with the driver’s insurance company and handle all correspondences so you don’t have to.

    Driving under the influence is a completely voluntary choice that puts every pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist on the road at risk. At Jim Dodson Law we believe those who choose to drive drunk must be held accountable for their choices. We know every case is unique and we understand there is no adequate compensation for the injury and loss a drunk driver causes, but we do our very best to get everyone the compensation they deserve.

    While most cases are not decided by a jury, predicting what a jury would do serves as the principle for arriving at the settlement value of a case. The purpose of a personal injury case is to try to make the injured person whole again or put them back in a position they were before the collision and resulting injuries. This requires an apportionment of fault for the crash, or in laymen’s terms, how much at fault was the drunk driver.

    Regardless of how the collision was caused, the injured person will be covered by his or her own PIP/No-Fault for up to $10,000 in medical expenses and wage losses. Beyond that, the drunk driver’s bodily injury coverage should be sought. If the bodily injury coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you, you should seek reparation from your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The insurance company will be able to compensate you for accident related medical expenses such as physical therapy, medical devices and surgery.

    Because drunk driving is a crime, DUI drivers may be required to pay punitive damages out of their own pocket. Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. They go beyond simply compensating the victim and their family for actual losses. These tend to be larger sums and are the personal responsibility of the driver. In most cases, drunk drivers don’t have any money to pay punitive damages, but when they do they can be substantial.

    In Florida, it is a very common problem that people choose to drive without insurance. The lawyer you hire must understand Florida’s uninsured/underinsured motorist laws so they can help you seek full compensation for your losses. It is your lawyer’s job to uncover all available insurance so that the victim and their families are adequately compensated.

    At Jim Dodson Law we work with you every step of the way. We meet with you, listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and strive to obtain adequate compensation for you and your family. If you are the victim of a DUI crash and are unsure of what to do, call us at 727-744-0840. You are not charged a dime for meeting with us to discuss your case, and you will never pay us unless we settle your claim or win at trial.

  • What Happens in a Florida Drunk Driving Criminal Case?

    In a criminal case, the first step is the arrest and prosecution of the drunk driver. After an alcohol-related crash there are several circumstantial factors that will be considered in determining how the drunk driver will be charged: Did he or she leave the scene of the accident? Were they driving with a suspended license? After the charges have been determined, the criminal justice system, operating through the Office of the State Attorney, is responsible for seeking punishment of the accused.

    If you are the victim of a DUI crash or a surviving family member of a victim you may be called to testify as a witness in the criminal case. The State Attorney’s Office is responsible for providing services to help victims and their survivors during the criminal case.

    Victims Advocates is another service provided by the state designed to work with victims and their families as they go through the criminal proceedings. They can offer recommendations for financial assistance to help deal with medical costs, lost wages, funeral expenses, and counseling. Victim/Witness Assistance is another service available to victims of DUI crashes and their families. Their job is to help guide victims through the criminal proceedings and answer any questions they might have.

    Each criminal case is assigned to a judge who will impose a sentence after the case is tried or the defendant enters a plea with the state. In Florida, there are mandatory minimum requirements for each level of DUI. Some of the most common sentences include probation or jail, the Victim Impact Panel, community service, revocation of the driver’s license and an interlock device installed on the drunk driver’s vehicle upon reinstatement of the driver’s license.

    The judge may also order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim or their family. This can be beneficial to your injury case because Florida law states that if the defendant is convicted of the offense and is ordered to pay restitution, they cannot later deny that they were driving drunk in a civil action. It is important to demand an order of restitution and let the prosecuting attorney know of all your medical expenses.

  • When Should I Buy a New Bicycle Helmet? Do I Need to Replace My Child's Helmet More Often?

    Many people aren’t aware you must replace your bicycle helmet after any crash where you hit your head.  The foam part of the helmet is only good for one major crash and must be replaced afterwards.

    Helmets are a simple piece of equipment but they are vital for your cycling safety. Each year about 2% of motor vehicle crash deaths are cyclists. That means two people lost their lives every day of the year in a cycling/motor vehicle accident. In the majority of bicyclist’s deaths, the most serious injuries were to the head. Statistics about head injuries resulting from cycling highlight the importance of wearing a helmet. But just because you wear a helmet doesn’t mean that you never need to replace it.

    A good rule of thumb to follow in regards to replacing your helmet is the five year rule. After five years with no major falls or crashes, replace your helmet. Of course, if you have fallen and your helmet has sustained a blow then you need to replace it. If there are any visible signs of cracks in the foam or helmet then you should replace your helmet. It’s that simple.

    Knowing when to replace your helmet is extremely important, especially in regards to children. Because children are more prone to fall off their bike than adults it is crucial that they not only they wear a helmet but that their helmet is going to be capable of minimizing the force of the impact. If the helmet has not been replaced after a crash then your child might not be as protected as you think.

    Cycling is fun and enjoyable but you still need to exercise caution in regards to safety. Make sure you and your children always wear a helmet when on a bike. If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new helmet then it is probably time to replace it. We want to make sure that you and your loved ones are safe while enjoying the fun of cycling. When you replace your helmet make sure to check out the new MIPs technology helmet which minimize the danger of a concussion.

  • As a Renter in Florida, Should I Have Renters Insurance?

    The Insurance Information Institute reports only about 31% of renters nationwide have renter’s insurance. Many people have never heard of it, think they don’t need it or simply hope nothing will happen to them. In our office alone, we know two families who lost everything they owned when their rented house or apartment burned because they were not insured.

    When you rent a house or apartment the landlord will have a type of home owners policy which will protect them and the property; it will pay you nothing in the event of a loss. Renters insurance is cheap and will give you essentially the same protection you would have with homeowner’s insurance if you owned the property.

    Here are the Things to Look for with a Renters Insurance Policy:

    • Personal property protection. This covers everything  you own in your apartment or house (except cars or boats.) Imagine what it would cost you to replace all your possessions after a fire; furniture and furnishings, appliances, clothing, gear, and more. It even protects your things lost or stolen while traveling.
       
    • Personal liability protection. Liability insurance covers you if you accidentally hurt someone on or off your rented apartment or house. That’s right, it follows you wherever you go and protects you if you injure someone while riding your bicycle or when your kid hits a rock through a neighbor’s window.
       
    • Emergency living expenses. When disaster happens the last thing you need to worry about is how to pay for a place to stay while your house or apartment is repaired or rebuilt. These kinds of expenses can be part of a renter’s policy.

    Although several companies also offer it, Allstate represents online this type of policy costs as little as $15 per month. If you aren’t covered, now is the time to do something about it.