Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is the Time Limit to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida?

    If someone you love has been killed in an accident in Florida and that accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, there is a specified amount of time in which you can file a wrongful death claim. According to the Florida statute of limitations, you will generally have 2 years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim.

    If you have questions about Florida’s statute of limitations regarding wrongful death, you can get the professional advice of a lawyer who has experience handling such cases.

    In addition to this 2-year statute of limitations, there may be specific notice requirements that apply to claims against government entities. These requirements may need to be fulfilled before a lawsuit can be filed.

    If your wrongful death claim is due to medical malpractice, there is a time period in which the wrongful death must be investigated. Furthermore, in a claim due to medical malpractice, a notice of intent to file a claim must be sent to potential defendants before a lawsuit can be filed.

    A failure to meet these state requirements may prevent you from recovering damages in a wrongful death claim. To meet these requirements, you can get the help of a wrongful death lawyer.

     

    If you want to learn more about the Florida wrongful death claims process, start by requesting a free copy of our legal guide, Survivor’s Guide to Florida Wrongful Death Claims

    Has A Loved One Died To The Negligence Of Others?

    If your loved one has died due to the negligence of someone else an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you hold them responsible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • Who is Covered By Florida No-Fault Insurance?

    According to Florida’s no-fault insurance law, anyone with auto insurance is covered by no-fault insurance. Your auto insurer will compensate you for your injuries regardless of who was at fault for an accident.

    However, any property damage that was caused should be covered by the at-fault party. If you have questions about Florida’s no-fault insurance law, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.

    According to Florida’s no-fault insurance law, all motorists must have a minimum of $10,000 personal injury (PIP) insurance coverage, and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) insurance coverage.

    Florida’s no-fault insurance law was developed to help reduce the number of car accident lawsuits. PIP coverage is meant to help pay for a victim’s medical expenses, as well as for a passengers’ expenses. PIP will provide coverage up to the limit amounts that are given by a policy.

    PIP will protect you while in your own vehicle, or while you are in someone else’s vehicle. PDL, on the other hand, covers certain property damages up to the limit of the policy.

    Apart from these two mandatory types of coverage, you may also purchase:

    • injury liability coverage;
    • collision coverage;
    • comprehensive coverage; and
    • uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage.

    Even if you have insurance coverage, you may want to contact a personal injury attorney if you’ve been injured. In cases where you need more compensation than your PIP policy limit will allow, an attorney can work to hold the responsible party accountable for your injuries.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • Who Can Be a Personal Representative in a Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

    If someone you love has been killed in Florida as the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation in a wrongful death claim. However, there are specific rules on who is eligible to make a wrongful death claim in Florida. If you have questions on whether or not you can make a claim, you can get the professional advice of a wrongful death attorney.

    Under Florida law, the only person who can make a wrongful death claim is the deceased’s personal representative. This representative must make the claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate, and on behalf of each individual survivor. In this case, survivors may include:

    • the deceased’s spouse,
    • the deceased’s children;
    • the deceased’s parents;
    • the deceased’s blood relatives; and
    • in some cases, their adoptive relatives.

    Under Florida statutes, survivorship is to be determined at the time of the deceased’s death. Furthermore, statutes specify what type of damages each type of survivor may recover. In a Florida wrongful death claim, damages may include the deceased’s medical expenses, their funeral and burial costs, and specific losses that were suffered by the survivors.

    If you want to file a wrongful death claim, or to know more about who can act as a deceased’s personal representative, you should get the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney.

    When Can You Recover?

    You may feel overwhelmed by the road ahead. We understand that you may be emotionally drained from your loss. That’s where we come in to play. We will take care of the legal side of things so you can focus on your needs.

    Keep in mind, Florida law generally requires wrongful death claims to be filed within two years of the date of death. This time often passes quickly in the midst of dealing with the loss.

    Before filing suit, the probate court will need to appoint a personal representative to bring the claim on behalf of the estate and the survivors. At Jim Dodson Law, we will work with the probate court to get this done.

    In cases against an agency of the government, Florida law has notice requirements which must be met in order to enforce your claim. These are all matters we have experience handling, so you don’t have to worry.

    Has A Loved One Died To The Negligence Of Others?

    When you lose someone you love you are surely dealing with emotional trauma. We understand the other burdens of loss such as medical bills, funeral expenses, probating an estate, property loss; the list goes on.  It can feel like you are in a whirlwind, particularly if you are left with all the responsibility. The survivors of a person killed due to another person’s wrongful act have the right under Florida law to recover for the loss of their loved one. For a free, no-obligation consultation with Clearwater wrongful death lawyer Jim Dodson, give us a call today at 727-446-0840.

  • Which Bone Fractures Commonly Require Open Reduction and Internal Fixation?

    An open reduction and internal fixation(ORIF) is a surgical procedure used to fix broken bones that wouldn’t heal properly with basic casting or splinting. It requires two steps: reduction and fixation.

    Reducing the Fractured Bone

    Reduction, in a medical sense, means putting the bone back in its proper place within the body. Open reduction refers to the need to perform surgery to reset the bone, while a closed reduction can be completed by manipulating the bones externally. Closed reductions are usually performed for hairline fractures while broken bones which are comminuted (broken into multiple fragments, oftentimes including some shattered pieces) and severely displaced (no longer lined up as they naturally belong) are more likely to require an open reduction due to the difficulty of reducing the bone from outside the body.

    Fixation of the Fractured Bone

    Fixation is the process of installing hardware like screws, rods, pins and plates to hold the bone in place so it doesn’t move before it can heal. These are all installed surgically and remain underneath the skin in an internal fixation procedure.

    In our practice, injuries to ankles, wrists, elbows and hips most frequently require ORIF.  These fractures are often caused by falls on unsafe walkways, bicycling collisions, and car crashes.

    External fixation may be utilized for more severe fractures and with larger bones, such as fractures of the femur, fibula or tibia. In contrast to the internal fixation procedure, an external fixation involves installation of pins through the skin into the bone which are held in place by an external frame around the wound.

    Have You Been Injured In A Slip And Fall Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a slip and fall accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.

  • What Type of Shoulder Injury is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

    A rotator cuff tear is a common source of shoulder pain. This is damage to the tendon attaching the muscle to the shoulder, frequently the supraspinatus tendon.

    What is a rotator cuff? The rotator cuff describes a group of four muscles which surround the ball of the shoulder joint. Beneath them is a bursa (sac) which allows the muscles to glide freely when moved. These muscles stabilize the shoulder joint, allow rotation, as well as, elevation of the arm.

    Tears are commonly caused by wear and tear of aging. They may become frayed as the tendon rubs across a small bone spur, which is a degenerative condition. The tendon may have a partial or complete tear. A torn rotator cuff may be caused by trauma from an accident. Many times accidents aggravate a previously degenerated tear which had not yet been damaged sufficiently to cause symptoms such as a pain or weakness until the accident occurred. A rotator cuff injury may cause pain, restricted range of motion and weakness.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • What Might the Defense or the Insurance Company Do to Try and Deny My Florida Slip and Fall Claim?

    Don’t let your insurance company fool you – they’re not in the business to give you a fair settlement for your slip and fall claim; they’re in the business to make (and keep) money.

    Claims Adjusters Use Five Common Tactics to Deny Your Claim

    1. Denying Liability

    Adjusters are notorious for trying to direct all the blame for an injury on the person who is hurt. It can be particularly difficult to prove negligence of a property owner in slip and fall cases because it is easy to put some blame on the victim.

    Their main goal is reducing the amount of money their company pays out for claims. A great way for them to do that is by taking advantage of Florida’s Comparative Fault Law which reduces the amount of any award at trial by the percentage of fault placed on the injured person. Even if you haven’t filed a lawsuit, insurance adjusters know this rule will apply in a trial so they apply it to your claim.

    Whether you slipped on a wet floor or fell through a rotten floorboard, the adjuster will likely question your decisions such as your choice of footwear, whether you held a handrail, your pace of walking or running, what you were carrying and where you were looking. They will argue that whatever caused your injury was open and obvious so that any reasonable person would have avoided it.

    2. Recorded Statements

    You’ll be pressured abruptly to give a recorded account of how you were injured, and often in the haste, you’ll admit to things that can harm your Florida slip and fall claim and may not even be true.

    They will ask you questions like, “how could you have avoided the fall?” and “why didn’t you…?” all to find ways you could have avoided the incident, without discussing the danger of the slippery floors or the sudden and unmarked change in elevation. They also use double negatives and ask questions that are worded so as to confuse you.

    It is smart to want to report what happened to the property owner or fill out an incident report after a fall, but do not talk to anyone from the insurance company before speaking to an attorney! Your attorney can typically answer the adjuster’s questions for you or with you so you don’t fall into one of these classic traps.

    3. Signing Medical Authorizations

    By signing a medical authorization you’re giving the defense access to your medical history, meaning they can look for related past injuries and argue your current injuries were pre-existing.

    Signing a medical authorization is a bad idea even when you don’t have a history of similar injuries. Why? Think about the last time you reviewed your medical chart. Likely, you have never even thought about it.

    We review all of our clients’ charts and often find things which are totally false or a slight misstatement which can hurt an insurance claim. One of our favorite examples involves a client who complained to his doctor of being in such pain that he was unable to do anything other than lay on the couch after a collision. His doctor noted that in his medical records as “patient hurt back lifting couch.” Just like any of us, when doctors don’t give their clients full attention, mistakes are made.

    4. Settlement on the Spot

    You may be offered an immediate settlement (which will most likely be far too little to compensate you for all your damages) and asked to sign a full release. If you do this without consulting your attorney first, you may be signing away your rights to seek compensation at a later time.

    Injuries tend to worsen before they improve. A swollen ankle you think will heal with time may be broken or require surgery to repair a torn ligament. When an adjuster offers to settle with you right away, you should be cautious. Know that offer will likely still be on the table in a few weeks or months after you are sure you don’t need further care.

    We make it a practice to never accept a settlement for less than the full policy limits on behalf of our clients unless they are done with their required medical treatment and know what future care they will need. Imagine how devastating it is for people who accept $1,000 because they think it’s a great deal only to need surgery in a few months and not be able to afford it. Don’t let that happen to you. Always contact an attorney before accepting anything.

    5. Persuading You NOT to Hire an Attorney

    The claims adjuster will try to convince you that they’re committed to getting you a fair settlement, and you don’t need an attorney. They will seem very kind and considerate on the phone. They just want your claim to go away as quietly and for as little money as possible.

    The truth is, without an attorney on your side, you probably won’t have a very good idea of what’s fair in a settlement offer or not, if you even get one. Don’t just take the insurance company’s word as truth. Whether your slip and fall claim is outright denied or you get an offer, seek a second opinion from an experienced personal injury attorney.

    If your claim is really simple enough that you can get a comparable settlement on your own, most attorneys will let you know up front.

    Have You Been Injured In A Slip And Fall Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a slip and fall accident you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.

  • What is Whiplash?

    Whiplash is a non-medical term used to describe neck pain. Doctors often diagnose people with more specific injuries such as cervical sprain, cervical strain or hyper flexion injury, but all of these can be categorized as whiplash. Whiplash is an injury caused by the neck and head being thrown suddenly backward then forward upon impact, such as in a car crash. The impact forces the neck and head beyond their normal range of movement, causing tissue damage and persistent pain.

    Many people suffering from whiplash have other, more serious injuries from the impact as well. Brain injuries are often diagnosed with neck injuries because the rapid movement of the neck can injure the brain.

    For example, coup contrecoup brain injuries are caused by the same back and forth rocking of the spine that causes neck injuries. In those cases, the force of the impact pushes the brain into the skull where it bounces and hits the opposite side of the skull. The rigid, bony structure of the skull can bruise and tear the soft brain tissue, leaving permanent damage.

    Additionally, pain, tingling and numbness in the upper extremities (hands and arms) can be associated with whiplash. The nerves which send and receive signals from the brain to the hands are protected by the cervical spinal canal, or as we often call them, the neck bones. When any of these bones or the discs between them are damaged, they can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain to run through the arms. For more on how nerves and the spine are connected, click here.

    Whiplash may sound like a simple sore neck after an accident, but it could also be a sign of more extensive injury. Be sure to seek medical treatment immediately after any neck injury. We understand how stressful it can be to deal with mounting medical expenses, that’s why we don’t charge you to discuss your case. In fact, you only pay us a portion of the settlement or verdict we recover for you.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • What is the Spinal Cord and What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?

    The spinal cord is a long, thin tubular bundle of nervous tissue and support cells which extend from the brain down the middle of the back. It is surrounded and protected by the bony vertebral column. The brain and the spinal cord together make up the central nervous system. The spinal cord carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body. These messages allow you to move and to feel touch, among other things. A spinal cord injury stops the flow of messages below the site of the injury. The closer the injury is to the brain, the more the body is affected.

    What Causes a Spinal Cord Injury?

    In addition to disease, a spinal cord injury commonly occurs as the result of trauma caused by a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a slip and fall accident, or a child injury.

    What Exactly is a Herniated Lumbar Disc?

    The lower spine has a series of vertebra through which the spinal cord runs. Each vertebra is separated by a disc which cushions the vertebra and promotes comfortable movement of the disc as we bend. Nerves controlling muscle function for the lower body branch off the spinal cord and pass through spaces in the vertebra as they connect to various muscles. The discs separating the vertebra are made up of a jelly-like center disc material encased in a strong fibrous like covering. If the disc covering is damaged, it allows the disc material to partially escape. When that happens, the disc material often comes into contact with an adjacent nerve root coming off the spinal cord. It may also touch or impinge upon the spinal cord itself. Contact with these nerves causes pain which manifests itself in many different ways. It is the escape of the disc material from within a lumbar disc which is being described as a “herniated” lumbar disc.

    Radiologists distinguish how much the disc material is pushing out of the disc with terms such as disc bulge (the least amount), disc protrusion, disc herniation and frank herniation (total escape of the material.) These conditions may be caused by the wear and tear process of disc degeneration as we age, an injury from trauma, or from a combination of the two.

    What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

    Low back pain is the initial symptom for most people with a herniated disc. The pain may last for a few days, then improve. Many times this is followed by the eventual onset of additional symptoms such as numbness, weakness and leg pain. This leg pain typically involves the leg below the knee, and foot and ankle. It is described as moving from the back or buttock down the leg into the foot. Symptoms may be one or all of the following: back pain, leg and/or foot pain (sciatica), weakness in the leg and/or foot, numbness in the leg and/or foot.

  • What is Bodily Injury Liability Coverage?

    Bodily Injury Liability coverage is your insurance in the event that you are responsible for a car crash in which another person was injured. Under this insurance, you and your assets are personally protected even when you are at fault.

    When you attain a Bodily Injury Liability insurance policy, you are signing a contract with your insurance company. This contract requires your insurance company to defend you and cover all damages and losses you have caused in a car accident.

    Exactly how many damages and losses your insurer will cover is determined by the limits of your liability coverage. When creating your policy, you can buy into however high or low a limit as you see fit; the lower your limit, the less coverage will be available to you when you need it.

    Bodily Injury Liability coverage is incredibly important when you are at fault in an accident, but it is even more important when you are not at fault. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another driver, your settlement may hinge on whether that driver has Bodily Injury Liability coverage. Without it, compensation for your damages and medical expenses becomes uncertain.

    The importance of Bodily Injury Liability coverage cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, many careless drivers or those who are struggling to make ends meet may opt not to carry sufficient Bodily Injury Liability. Statistics show that too many people are recklessly taking to the road with minimal coverage limits, some without any coverage at all.

    Have You Been Injured In A Car Accident?

    If you've been hurt in Florida car accident you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • What is an Out of Court Settlement or a Negotiated Settlement?

    An out of court settlement, otherwise known as a negotiated settlement, is an arrangement that can be set up by your personal injury lawyer to establish the outcome of your suit without the inclusion of a judge, jury or the trial process. Both attorneys are involved in the process and it sometimes can be more preferable than a long court case.

    Insurance companies prefer to settle out of court because it reduces their court costs. They are more likely to agree to a settlement without the inclusion of the judge and jury. It is not recommended that you accept an out of court offer from an insurance company without the advice of your personal injury lawyer.

    It is imperative that you allow your personal injury lawyer to discuss the terms of your out of court settlement with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum compensation allowable.

    Without representation, the insurance company may try to low-ball you. It is in the insurance company’s interest to maintain its profits, and that includes retaining as much money as possible when negotiating settlements.

    An out of court settlement can be a positive experience for all involved, if properly negotiated. Remember, once you agree to an out of court settlement, you relinquish all rights to a trial. Confer with your lawyer before taking any serious legal actions.