Frequently Asked Questions

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  • 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.

  • Should I Buy Rental Car Reimbursement On My Auto Insurance Policy?

    Absolutely. It is inexpensive and hugely convenient when you need it. Here’s why: very often after an accident caused by another driver, there is a delay of days or sometimes weeks before their insurance company can be determined or they accept responsibility for the crash.

    Many times the other driver fails to report the crash, or the driver does not have an insurance card at the time of the accident, or they are driving someone else’s car and do not know the owner's insurance company. Other times, the driver has no insurance or it was cancelled. These and other situations may delay having the driver’s insurance company provide you a rental, if there is an insurance company at all.

    We had a caller recently who was involved in an accident with someone in a rental vehicle who did not purchase the rental coverage. To make matters worse, the police did not give our caller enough information about the driver to reach them by phone. The driver was in Florida on vacation. Writing them would take time.

    Going through the rental company to get their information could easily take a week. Florida is brimming with rental cars this time of year. Having rental coverage allows you to get a car without paying out of pocket and it avoids a big hassle for you. The coverage probably costs less than $15-20 every six months and is well worth having.

  • Why Shouldn’t I Hire an Out of State Attorney for My Florida Injury Case?

    By hiring an attorney who is not licensed to practice law in Florida, you are positioning yourself at an enormous disadvantage when it comes to negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. To file a lawsuit in Florida, attorneys must be licensed by the state of Florida. That means your out of state attorney cannot file a lawsuit for you without hiring a Florida attorney and the claims adjusters know this.

    You are also entrusting the outcome of your case to someone who may not know Florida law. The rules for filing documents, disclosing photographs and documents and even your rights as someone who was injured are different in Florida. Imagine how upsetting it would be to lose your chance at a recovery because your attorney from back home didn’t know the law in Florida that controlled whether you had a claim or not.

  • How Will I Communicate with an Attorney in Florida if I Live in Another State?

    We believe communication is the key to fantastic legal representation. By getting to know our clients we pick up on details that seem minute, but can make a world of a difference when drafting a settlement package or negotiating with the insurance company.

    That being said, according to surveys by the Florida Bar, the biggest complaint clients have with attorneys is not returning their phone calls. In contrast, we promise every client in writing we will return every call promptly, never longer than 24 hours from their initial call.

    Our office takes advantage of technology to keep in touch with our long distance clients. In fact, many clients who live close to our office prefer to use email and phone as primary means of communication even though they live just minutes away.

    You see, hiring a lawyer who lives around the block doesn’t do any good if he or she doesn’t answer the phone when you call. We make sure to be available and responsive throughout your entire representation. Living in another state doesn’t change a thing. No matter where you live, you will get our full attention.

    You don’t have to take our word on this. Our clients say it best. Check out our testimonials about how our clients feel they were treated.

  • Can You Take My Florida Accident Case if I Live in a Different City or State?

    Yes. Whether you were on vacation in Florida or here on a business trip, if you were injured in a Florida accident you need an experienced Florida attorney. We can represent you regardless of where you live. In fact, we often represent clients who live across the state, in other states and even in other countries!

    Every accident, whether it is a motor vehicle accident involving bicyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians, involves a special set of circumstances. Some of our clients are too injured to visit us in the office so we meet them in their homes, while others prefer electronic communication. Distance is never a factor when it comes to your representation.

  • How Can An MRI Be Used To Diagnose My Brain Injury?

    MRI MachineMagnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tests are used to create pictures of the brain (and other parts of the body) without the need for invasive procedures. There are many ways MRIs can help doctors diagnose, evaluate and monitor brain injuries because they give detailed information that does not show up on CT scans or X-rays.

    In a standard MRI (whether open, closed or wide-bore) you lay still on the table throughout the entire test. This allows doctors to see the structure of your brain. A contrast material is used in some instances to emphasize certain parts of the brain more clearly. Different contrasts do different things - some show blood flow, others show infections or tumors - depending on why you are having an MRI.

    Different MRIs Serve Different Purposes

    Functional MRIs or fMRIs help doctors visualize brain function as you perform certain activities. For example, you may be asked to tap your fingers, speak or listen. As you do each activity a different part of your brain will light up. This allows doctors to evaluate how your brain has been affected by injury or trauma.

    A special type of MRI called Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) or diffusion MRI shows how water travels along the white matter in your brain. White matter works like telephone wires to transmit communication between different parts of the brain. Sometimes when the white matter is damaged, information will reroute and find a new way to relay the messages within the brain. Other times, the messages are completely lost along the pathway. Because white matter is made up of axons, DTI allows doctors to detect axonal damage (often referred to as diffuse axonal injury) based on abnormal pathways and microbleeds. Standard MRIs do not provide this degree of detail.

    3D MRIs allow doctors to rotate the brain and visualize the many parts of the brain in relation to one another. They are better for monitoring growth of tumors and cysts and examining blood flow in many directions. This makes them better for visualizing the intricacies of the brain with its many tiny parts. 3D MRIs are created by taking 2D slices from various angles and combining the pieces to form a single 3D image of the brain.

    MRIs can help doctors determine the cause of headaches, diagnose a stroke, check for water in the brain, check and monitor tumors, cysts and infections, and check for symptoms of head injuries. DTI and fMRIs allow doctors to see beyond the structure of the brain and tissue to see how injuries are actually impacting your cognitive functions. In many serious brain cases, you may have the fMRI and the diffusion MRI done at the same time so your doctors can combine the data and get the most accurate picture of your brain functions and impairment. This allows them to create more specific treatment plans and better monitor your progress.

    Medical Malpractice In Brain Injury Diagnosis

    In order to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent in reading and understanding the results of your MRI. 

    Also, a medical malpractice case must have a witness, an expert in the medical field or related area, that is willing to testify on your behalf. Without one there is no chance of trying, let alone winning, your case.

    There is a huge misconception regarding the simplistic nature of winning a medical malpractice claim. There is a lot at stake for the doctor or surgeon making a medical malpractice case very, very complex. They are not going to simply settle in order to keep the case from going to court. Accusations of medical malpractice can ruin a medical care practitioner's reputation and career. They will be more than willing to go to court in order to protect their themselves and definitely don't take medical malpractice accusations lightly. If you don't have a claim of negligence that can be proven you simply don't have a medical malpractice claim.

    A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help If You've Suffered a Brain Injury

    Traumatic head and brain injuries can leave someone with a lifetime of potentially serious side effects, and sadly, a full recovery isn't always possible for everyone. Learn more about the long term effects of brain injuries in this free guidebook: The Layman's Guide to Brain Injuries. It may be possible to recover compensation for your injury, but you'll need a personal injury attorney with experience handling brain injury claims. Jim Dodson is just such an attorney. Serving all of Florida from several offices, Jim will fight for your rights if you've suffered a brain injury.

    If you have suffered a serious brain injury due to negligence or an accident contact us online or call us directly at 888.815.6398. We will be happy to answer any questions during your free consultation. 

  • What is a SPECT Scan and How is it Used to Diagnose a Brain Injury?

    Doctor Looking at a SPECT ScanSPECT scans are extremely useful in the diagnosis process because they allow doctors to see blood flow inside your body. This is essential when it comes to diagnosing brain injuries because each part of the brain handles different cognitive functions and tasks. SPECT scans help identify problem areas in the brain based on blood flow because damaged brain tissue typically uses less blood than healthy tissue.

    SPECT Scans Allow Doctors to Monitor Blood Flow Within the Brain

    You will receive a radioactive tracer shortly before the scan. The tracer stays in your blood, lighting it up for the scanner. Areas of the brain with heavier blood flow show up as darker colors while areas with less blood flow show up lighter and brighter on the images. By monitoring blood flow within the brain, doctors can spot areas with less than normal blood flow and compare them with your symptoms to locate the damaged part of your brain and diagnose your injury.

    SPECT scans are more sensitive to brain injury than both MRI and CT scans, while the cost is roughly the same as an MRI. Often, lesions apparent on an MRI or CT scan show up much smaller than the same lesion when viewed on a SPECT scan. In cases where you have a ‘normal’ reading on an MRI or CT scan but are still suffering from serious brain damage, a SPECT scan is more likely to identify the problem. Because standard MRIs and CT scans show the structure of the brain and not the functions, they are limited in their findings of nerve damage.

    As a matter of fact, we are currently helping a client with a brain injury who had a negative MRI and soft tissue swelling on a CT, but upon having a SPECT scan was found to have multiple abnormalities and areas of decreased blood flow. Among other side effects, he is suffering from short term memory loss, depression, narcolepsy and blurred vision.

    Many recent studies urge the importance of SPECT scans done on people with brain injuries because of the known limitations of other imaging tests.

    If You've Suffered a Brain Injury, and Attorney May Be Able to Help Your Recovery Process

    Brain injuries are often serious, and can have significant long term effects on health and well being. If you or someone you know has suffered head trauma, you may benefit from speaking with experienced brain injury attorney Jim Dodson. We have offices throughout central Florida, and are headquartered in Clearwater to provide accident victims the best possible representation. Learn more about the true consequences of traumatic brain injuries by downloading our free guidebook The Layman's Guide to Brain Injuries, or request a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 727-446-0840 today.

  • How Can a CT or CAT Scan Be Used to Diagnose My Brain Injury?

    Brain CT Scan

    CT scans are the most commonly used imaging tests. They are a series of X-ray images taken one slice at a time and combined to form images more detailed than a traditional X-ray. They are invaluable in the diagnoses of acute and life threatening problems and often used in emergency rooms when someone arrives with a head injury. They are superior to MRIs for viewing changes in the structure of the brain such as hemorrhages, lesions, subdural hematomas, and temporal bone, skull and face fractures.

    CT Scans Are Not Perfect at Diagnosing Brain Injuries

    However, they can miss signs of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) for various reasons. The findings on CT scans sometimes lag behind the actual injury if the test is performed too soon after the trauma, leading doctors to underestimate the extent of the injury. Damaged axons, which manage the transfer of information within the brain, are microscopic in size but the CT scanner doesn’t reproduce microscopic details so they often go unseen. CTs can also miss small amounts of blood because the images are taken one slice at a time and later combined. If a blood pool or other abnormality is smaller than the width of a slice, 5 to 10 mm generally, it may not show up on the images.

    I recently learned of a case where a brain bleed was not discovered until months after the accident even though the patient had a CT of the brain done immediately. It went undetected until the bleeding had gotten severe enough to affect that person’s balance and required a follow up scan.

    Even though CT scans miss certain things, they remain the prominent choice of doctors for immediate diagnosis and treatment of brain injuries for their quickness and accuracy in detecting life threatening conditions. A CT scan only takes about 15 minutes (or 30 minutes if contrast is used) to complete the test and be of use for doctors. For someone suffering from a stroke or aneurysm where time is crucial, the CT is a life saver.

    In Certain Circumstances, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) May Be More Accurate and Effective

    The story changes two to three days after trauma when MRI becomes more accurate at detecting slight abnormalities in the brain than CT scans. As blood ages it becomes denser and can look more like tissue on a CT. MRI scanners do not rely on density, but instead on magnetic charges and radio waves, so the changing composition of the blood does not impair the results.

    When looking at the results of a CT scan you will see a grayscale image of the brain. The lighter in color something is, the denser the tissue, fluid or bone is. So, your skull will show up as white and the brain tissue will show up as different shades of gray with any gas or air appearing the darkest. Doctors use these shades to determine which areas are ‘not normal,’ such as a lesion, fluid, air or another mass in the brain instead of standard brain matter.

    CT scans are undeniably vital in the diagnoses of potentially lethal injuries. They exist to rule out and diagnose problems that need to be treated immediately. Keep in mind, a ‘negative’ or ‘normal’ CT scan does not conclusively mean there is no brain damage, particularly when the patient has suffered a concussion or loss of consciousness. It is crucial that caregivers and patients carefully monitor and report any physical signs of brain injury (memory loss, balance issues, confusion, etc.) to a physician for a follow-up examination.

    Misconception Regarding Brain Injury Medical Malpractice

    It's important to note, to have a legitimate medical malpractice claim, your surgeon or doctor had to have been grossly negligent. This means they had to have completely misread or ignored the fundamental findings of your CT scan.

    Have you suffered a serious brain injury due to negligence or an accident? You need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.815.6398. We will be happy to answer any questions during your free consultation.