Frequently Asked Questions
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What's the Difference Between Stacked and Unstacked Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage in Florida?
Many clients ask us the difference between stacked and unstacked uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Stacked UM coverage increases your UM coverage with each vehicle you own that is on the stacked policy. It allows you to combine — or “stack” — the limits for each vehicle, giving you a greater total amount of coverage. For example, someone with two vehicles each with $25,000 stacked UM policy limits would have a total of $50,000 in UM coverage on each vehicle.
Unstacked UM coverage applies the coverage limits to one specific vehicle, without combining the amounts among all of a person’s vehicles. Using the same example as before, two vehicles with $25,000 unstacked UM policies would result in coverage being capped at $25,000 for an accident involving either vehicle.
Even with one car on a policy, stacked UM insurance provides broader coverage than non-stacked in a variety of ways. To learn more about UM policies, make sure to check out our free ebook Uninsured Motorist Insurance – Don’t Leave Home Without It. You can download it here.
Who Has the Right of Way in Florida?
Did you know Florida has no law explicitly granting the right of way? It’s true. Florida laws only provide for when someone must yield the right of way to other drivers. The goal is to always encourage defensive driving.
For example, Florida Statute 316.121 states that “the driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle which has entered the intersection from a different highway.” Notice how the law only indicates the person who must yield.
Another example is Florida Statute 316.123, which relates to vehicles entering stop or yield intersections. “After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard…”
So remember, when you’re in a situation where you are unclear about right away, patience is always the correct answer.
Can E-Bikes or Electric Bicycles Be Ridden On Florida Sidewalks?
On July 1st 2020 it became legal to ride an e-bike on Florida sidewalks. That’s because the legislature took a big step to define e-bikes and to give them the right to ride anywhere a bicycle can be ridden. It has always been legal to ride a bicycle on Florida sidewalks, unless prohibited by local ordinance. Now e-bikes fit into the same framework.
The law also recognizes 3 classes of e-bikes, including pedal assist up to 20 MPH (class 1), throttle only up to 20 MPH (class 2) or pedal assist up to 28 MPH (class 3). It also removed the restriction an e-bike rider had to be 16 or older. So, essentially anyone could operate an e-bike on our sidewalks within their category limits.
The new law is facing tremendous pushback because of the authorization of the enhanced speeds and permitting them to be used on sidewalks and other paths. There are many in the bike community who are opposed to allowing them on the sidewalk, particularly at those potential speeds. The new law has a home rule provision which permits local communities to restrict e-bikes on sidewalks within their communities.
How Does the Slow Speed Impediment Statute Apply to Cyclists?
A cyclist riding on the roadway is subject to nearly all of the traffic laws applicable to cars or motorcycles. A few people asked about the exception to which I referred, Fla. Stat. 316.183 (5), which states:
No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic.
The reason it does not apply is because a bicycle is not included in this statute’s definition of a “motor vehicle.” However, even though the speed impediment law does not apply, this does not allow cyclists to ride in any manner they so choose.
Remember, cyclists are required to ride in a bike lane, if available. We are permitted to ride two abreast within the bike lane and in those circumstances when we are permitted to “take the lane.” Otherwise, riding two abreast is not permitted and we can be cited for impeding traffic.
What is the Most Common Bike Crash Injury We See at Jim Dodson Law?
The simple answer is concussions. Although we see them as standalone injuries, much more frequently they are in addition to significant physical injuries. They are unique in that 50% of people will have a resolution of their symptoms within 30 days and the vast majority within the first year. However, that leaves a significant number of people whose symptoms will not resolve and, frankly, may become progressively more pronounced as time goes on. In many cases, there is no specific treatment; rather, our goal is to ensure it is properly diagnosed and fully discussed in the medical records so that its existence is fully accounted for in the settlement. Doing so requires complete frankness and cooperation from our client working with neurologists and, when appropriate, neuropsychologists and other specialists who are attuned to the unique nature of concussions and their potential effects on their victims.
Each concussion is unique, as are the facts of every case. Accordingly, there is no set value for a concussion in a settlement. They most frequently are a significant component driving the case value along with other injuries. In our practice we have experience handling these injuries in 7 figure settlements.
We Reached an Agreement to Settle My Case, What Happens Now?
In most cases, our clients have incurred medical bills which were paid by insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Workers Comp or remain unpaid. Our client’s concern once a settlement is reached is the amount of the net proceeds they will receive after these bills are paid. It falls on us to negotiate with lien holders like insurance companies or directly with medical providers who provided care under a Letter of Protection (signed agreement between the patient, their lawyer and the provider to accept payment from the settlement).
Keep in mind, virtually all incurred medical treatment paid by some form of insurance will have a right to seek reimbursement when a case settles. This includes traditional health insurance companies and governmental entities like Medicare, Medicaid, Workers Comp, or the VA. The insurance adjuster knows this and estimates these amounts when calculating the value of a case.
The reimbursement right of each entity is radically different in terms of how lien rights are calculated and the amount they will consider when a reduction of their lien is requested. It takes years of experience to learn these differences and how to maximize all possible reductions on a client’s behalf. Together with my assistant Judi, we have years of experience in getting medical bills and liens reduced on our client’s behalf.
How much a lien can be reduced varies widely from entity to entity and often by the circumstance of each individual case. Of course, our friends in Washington have passed laws favoring business interests over the interests of consumers. A great example would be the protections given to certain insurance companies governed by the ERISA law which gives them the right to insist on their full lien recovery from a settled case, although, we have been successful in having many of these reduced, as well.
We jump on this process immediately after settlement. Governmental liens typically require the most time to resolve while individual medical provider liens can be negotiated in a matter of days. We keep our clients fully informed on this reduction process and will discuss our goals for each provider or lien holder. If you have questions about this don’t hesitate to call us.
Have You Been Injured In An Accident?
If you've been injured in an accident you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.
Do Your Bike Tires Give You Protection from Lightning While Cycling?
Being struck by lightning is almost universally a fatal event. It can happen without warning, but frequently we know well in advance the thunderstorm is approaching. If you are caught in a storm on your bicycle, do your rubber wheels on your bike give you some protection? The short answer is they do not according to everything that I’ve been able to find.
I was talking to a cycling client recently about this very topic. This was a very experienced cyclist who is accustomed to riding in Florida. He believed the wheels on his bicycle provided enough insulation to protect him from lightning. Sadly, that is a huge myth, but a widely accepted one. The rubber wheels on our bikes have nowhere near the amount of insulation necessary to protect us on a bike from a lightning strike. They really offer no more protection than the rubber soles of our shoes. However, his belief is common.
The Dangers of Cycling During a Thunderstorm
Having lived in Florida all my life, I have a huge respect for lightning. When I was a golfer I was unnerved by the willingness of people to remain on the golf course in close proximity to lightning striking all around. It’s no different when we encounter a thunderstorm while on an extended bike ride.
Rather than press on as lightning approaches, we should be looking for cover. That doesn’t mean everyone huddling together in one spot. People need to spread out. You don’t want everyone to be affected by a single strike. Don’t get flat on the ground, but crouch close to the ground. Stay away from metal poles and trees which can attract lightning themselves. As cyclists, we have the same risk of being struck by lightning as we do when we were walking, playing golf, or strolling on the beach.
Recently, someone on a motorcycle on I-95 was struck by lightning. As a result, the rider died either from the lightning bolt or the crash which followed. There have been at least six such incidents involving lightning striking a motorcyclists just in Florida over the past few years. There’s no reason the same thing can’t happen to a cyclist.
We Have Successfully Handled Bicycle Accident Cases in Florida
Jim Dodson Law has successfully handled bicycle accident cases for Florida cyclists whose injuries were caused by a negligent driver. If you have been injured in a serious cycling crash, you deserve compensation to pay for your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
Attorney, Jim Dodson is a cyclist, so he understands the issues Florida cyclists face when they ride. You can be sure he will put his years of experience to work for you and get the settlement you deserve. If you’re ready to set up your free case consultation today, fill out our contact form or call us now at 727-446-0840.
Should You Automatically Decline Those Insurance Options at the Car Rental Counter?
You’ve probably wondered about declining those rental counter options, like Collision Damage Waiver. This coverage protects you if you cause a crash in the rental car and it is taken out of service for repairs. When this happens you could be on the hook not just for the vehicle repairs, but the lost rental revenue for each day it is out of service. A lawyer friend had a client who wished they had not declined the coverage when they received a bill from the rental car company for over $20,000.
Does your high end credit card cover this and other such losses? Most cards do not cover CDW. Do not make the assumption yours does. Be very specific about the coverage involved when you ask them.
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.
How Can You Reduce Your Odds Of Being In A Bicycle Accident?
This is simple and yet so few people do it. Take these three steps:
Steps To Protecting Yourself When Riding A Bicycle
Wear Bright Florescent Jersey Or Jacket During The Day.
I prefer neon yellow, but there are other colors. A major study involving thousands of cyclists over a year revealed those who wore bright florescent yellow jackets (it was Denmark, it is colder there) during the day reduced the odds of being hit by a motor vehicle by 55% (a 47% reduction in all multi-party crashes -pedestrians, other cyclists, etc.
Always Ride With A Bright Head Light And Tail Light.
I cannot emphasize the word bright enough! Make sure you even use the head light and tail light during the day. Flashing patterns work best. A study revealed a reduction in the odds of being hit by nearly 50%.
Wear Your Rear Facing Bright Flashing Taillight Strapped to Your Ankles.
Wear bright florescent neon (yellow) on your feet and at your knees. Studies suggest the movement of the florescent colors on your feet/ankles/knees helps distinguish you a a person on a bike and significantly increases the odds of being seen and avoided.
If you or someone you know has been struck by a vehicle while cycling in Florida download our popular consumer guide the Florida Bicycle Accident Guide by the Florida injury lawyer who is a cyclist and who has a passion for helping fellow Florida bicycle riders.
What is a Concussion?
Contrary to what many people believe, a concussion is not simply a “bruise” to the brain after bumping the head. A concussion is actually a traumatic brain injury. They are caused when the head is hit or hits something which results in the brain to rapidly accelerating inside the skull. When the rapidly moving skull comes to an abrupt stop, the momentum of the brain causes it to strike the inside of the skull with great force. This all happens very rapidly, but far from being just a quick event, it initiates processes deep within the brain tissue which may last a lifetime. Traumatic brain injury attorney, Jim Dodson has helped many people who have suffered brain injuries over the last 25 years.
What Happens Inside The Brain Following A Concussion?
The brain is a highly-organized, extremely complex, and powerful command center of the human body. It governs our emotions, thoughts, memories, learning, intelligence, creativity, movement, speech, our senses and so much more. Its capabilities are amazing. But it is very fragile. The brain is soft and delicate and has a Jell-O-like consistency. Inside the brain are billions of neurons, which communicate signals over long-spindly structures, called axons. The smooth and uninterrupted transmission of these signals over the axons is vital to the brain’s ability to properly control our bodies.
The skull serves to protect the brain from external blows to the head, but when the head or torso is subjected to a sudden force or jolt, the brain forcefully shifts and moves inside the skull, causing the neurons and axons to stretch and even tear. When an axon is torn, it not only disrupts the brain’s ability to communicate its vital signals, but also causes the death of surrounding neurons from toxins which are released when the destroyed axons begin to degrade and deteriorate.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Concussion?
Symptoms of many concussions are immediately visible. Sometimes, however, they become apparent much later. Typical concussion symptoms that appear immediately include headache, confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness, amnesia about how the injury occurred, dizziness, and others. Symptoms that can occur later include depression, anxiety, forgetfulness, fatigue, visual disturbances, problems with concentration and attention, memory problems, sleep disturbances, as well as changes in mood and behavior.
How Long Does It Take A Concussion To Heal?
Each brain is unique, and each injury is unique. There are also different levels of concussion severity (from mild to severe). The average complete healing time for a concussion is typically 2-3 months according to scientific literature. Getting appropriate medical care, following physician’s orders, and protecting yourself from receiving another concussion while healing from an initial concussion, are crucial to the healing process. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, concussion symptoms can last well beyond the “normal” healing period. In fact, people can suffer these symptoms for months or even years after the event. Suffering concussion symptoms beyond the time that is considered “normal” is called Post-Concussion Syndrome (or PCS). PCS is a serious medical condition that wreaks havoc on a person’s daily life – interfering with work, social life, school, hobbies, and personal relationships. Persistent post-concussion syndrome may be considered a permanent injury and its effects may ripple throughout one’s life.
Have You Or A Loved One Suffered A Concussion Due To Negligence?
If you or a loved one have suffered a concussion due to negligence you need to speak with an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.