Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What’s the Law in Florida on Opening the Car Door into a Cyclist?

    Florida statute 316.2005 says that no person shall open a car door until it is reasonably safe to do so. This puts the responsibility on the driver or passenger in the car to make sure that they can do so safely. They can be cited if they open their car door into the path of a pedestrian, cyclist or even another vehicle. This has nothing to do with whether a cyclist is in a bicycle lane. It clearly applies to the situation where the occupant of the vehicle opens her door into a bike lane, but it is not limited to those situations.

    In most situations when a cyclist is approaching a car they are doing so on the driver’s side and generally are keeping an eye out for whether the car they’re approaching has someone sitting behind the wheel who could potentially open a door into their path. But those are not the only situations where this problem can occur.

    I represented a cycling client who was riding in a bike lane approaching an intersection with a line of cars which were slowing or were stopped. A vehicle passed the cyclist, stopped in the line of traffic at which point the front right passenger opened their door suddenly to get out of the vehicle. The door caught my cyclist square on the bike and their body, causing significant injury. The passenger was cited by the police for improperly opening the door of the vehicle.

    A cyclist who’s been injured when a car door is opened into their path has a claim against the insurance of the vehicle involved their injuries, medical expenses and other harms.

    Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?

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

    Did you find this article helpful? Share this on Facebook or Google+ to let others know what their rights are. If you have been involved in a similar accident, call us today.

  • A Cyclist in a Group Ride Caused Me to Fall Do I Have an Injury Claim?

    This is a pretty common question asked either by the injured cyclist or by their spouse calling on their behalf. Legally, there’s usually not a clear yes or no answer. But here are some of the considerations that will come into play.

    First, if you are a member of an organized cycling club and completed their club application, there may be language in the application which waives or gives up the right for you to bring a negligence claim against the club or ride participants during a club event. This applies even if there was clear negligence or fault by the club or the rider. You have to go back and carefully look at the application you filled out with club. This is pretty common language in most club applications for membership.

    Second, there must be some basis to argue the cyclist who caused you to fall was at fault by doing something which was negligent or careless. This could include needlessly aggressive riding, carelessly running into someone, and careless inattention to the location of cyclists around them or some other similar argument. Each cycling accident is unique. The facts of how they occur are unique. The facts will determine if there is an argument which would support a case of negligence.

    Third, there must be someone from whom to collect financial recovery for the injuries or losses you suffered. Typically, that means insurance since it is extremely difficult to collect money from a private individual in Florida. A cyclist who owns a home and has homeowners insurance should be covered under their Homeowner’s Policy for any careless or negligent act while riding their bike. Most people don’t realize they are covered by their homeowners insurance for many activities away from their home such as cycling or as a pedestrian, for example.

    Finally, there is the question of whether this is a claim that should be brought even if all the elements are present to allow bringing the case. That will be an individual decision, not only for the injured cyclist, but for the lawyer. It comes down to whether it’s the right thing to do in the eyes of most people.

    Get a free copy of the Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook to learn more about safe cycling and the steps you should take if you are involved in a cycling accident.

    Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?

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

  • Driver Hit the Gas Instead of the Brake, Do I Have a Case?

    A driver who hits the gas pedal instead of the brake is responsible and could be at fault if they injure someone. The injured person may bring a claim against the driver’s insurance company. In the event the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance or not enough of the right kind, the person who was hurt would look to the Uninsured Motorist coverage on their own car insurance policy.

    These accidents are sometimes called gas pedal accidents or wrong pedal accidents. They frequently occur in a parking lot. A recent study by the National Traffic Safety Administration found women were responsible for about 60% of gas pedal accidents.

    When a driver hits the wrong pedal the injuries suffered by someone who was run over can be quite serious. When the pedal mix up occurs the driver believes in their mind they are putting on the brakes, but the car suddenly takes off in drive or in reverse. The natural tendency then is to press harder, thinking the car should be slowing. As a result, the car accelerates rapidly. This results in cars being driven into buildings or over long distances before crashing into something that stops them. In a recent pedal mix-up case in Florida, three innocent people were killed when a woman hit the gas instead of the brake in a parking lot.

    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 Do I Spot a Drunk Driver & What Should I Do if I Spot One?

    We have all watched the show “COPS” and think we can spot a drunk driver. The obvious way to tell is when a car swerves off the road and is driving too fast or too slowly. Those are just a couple of the many actions that can tip us off and let us know we are behind a driver who is intoxicated. Other actions include using improper turn signals, a car stopped in the middle of the road, tailgating, hugging one side of the road, quickly accelerating or decelerating, almost striking an object, not driving with lights on, braking erratically, and driving in the wrong lane.

    The Logical Question That Follows Is, What Do I Do When I Spot a Drunk Driver?

    When you see a car that appears to be driven by a drunken driver remember to stay away from the car. Do not pass or drive too closely to the car, because we know drunk drivers stop abruptly and swerve out of their lane. To make sure other people on the road are safe, it’s important to get the description of the car and a license plate number, if you can do it safely.

    Call the police and report the drunk driver. You should tell the officers why you think the driver is drunk, give a description of the car, and let them know what direction the car is heading. Remember before you call, you should pull over to a safe location and stop your vehicle before using your cell phone. The road does not need a drunk driver and a driver on a cell phone all at the same time. It is important to solve the problem and not add to it by talking on your cell phone while you drive.

    Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured By A Drunk Driver?

    If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver you should speak with an experienced drunk driver injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • How Many Traffic Deaths in Florida are Caused By Drunk Dirvers?

    According to MADD, there were 716 people who lost their lives to drunk drivers in 2011 in Florida alone. That means thousands of people lost loved ones they can never see again as a result of people choosing to drink too much and get behind the wheel. Thirty percent of all traffic deaths in Florida were a result of a drunk driver.  These are senseless deaths that are completely avoidable.

    In 1995, there were 717 fatalities due to drunk drivers. After years of raising awareness with public service announcements people still continue to drink, drive, and kill innocent people. Some people look at these statistics as mere numbers, but the numbers represent people. The people who are killed are survived by parents, spouses, and children. Losing a loved one can cause devastating emotional and financial harm. Never being able to say goodbye affects people in work, school, and every day activities. Lives are changed  by the financial burdens of burial cost, loss of a bread winner, and unpaid medical bills.

    We hear the cliché that “buzzed driving is drunk driving”, but it is much more than a cliché. If you feel anything other than normal after drinking you are impaired. It’s not worth killing someone and having to live with yourself knowing that you took a life. We have already addressed the problem, and it is time for individuals to finally drink responsibly.

    Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured By A Drunk Driver?

    If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver you should speak with an experienced drunk driver injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • Is it Illegal to Drive Under the Influence of Pills or Medication?

    Everyone understands it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. However, there is a common misconception it is fine to drive while taking your own prescription medicines. Most people fail to understand driving under the influence of pills is illegal if they impair you. It doesn’t matter if the pills are lawfully prescribed to the driver by their doctor.

    The law in Florida says that it is illegal to drive a vehicle while impaired by alcohol, chemical substances, or controlled substances that includes prescription pills that impair a person. So remember before you drive your car, check your pill bottle to see if it tells you not to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery. If you are hit by someone you believe is under the influence of alcohol or prescription pills, tell the police officers when they show up after an accident.

    Even though a person may not “blow over the limit” after hitting you, officers can determine if they are under the influence of a controlled substance after administering a field sobriety test. Many people commonly know the field sobriety test as the “finger to nose” and “walking the line” test. Officers test a person’s balance, eye movements, and ability to follow directions.

    For the purpose of driving under the influence, impairment may be established by an officer describing a person’s demeanor and conduct. This means the field sobriety test is enough evidence for a person to get convicted of a DUI including prescription medication. When a person hits you with their car and is found to be driving under the influence, you can hold them financially responsible.

    Have You Or A Loved One Been Injured By A Drunk Driver?

    If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver you should speak with an experienced drunk driver injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

  • Who is Considered a Vulnerable Road User (VRU) in Florida?

    A vulnerable road user (VRU) is anyone who is on or alongside a roadway without the protective hard covering of a metal automobile. The term includes bicycle riders, pedestrians, motorcyclists, people in wheelchairs, police, first responders, roadway workers and other users like a person on a skateboard or scooter. It is meant to include people who are especially at risk of serious bodily harm if hit by a car, SUV or truck.

    The term is commonly used in relation to the argument state laws need to give sentencing judges more ability to up the punishment imposed on a driver who injures a vulnerable road user. Florida currently has no such law. It is very common for a driver who kills or seriously injures a VRU to just be given a ticket for careless driving. In recent years, there have been several well publicized accidents in the Tampa Bay area and other Florida cities involving a distracted driver striking and killing a pedestrian or cyclist. Some of these horrible crashes, resulted in the driver simply getting a small fine. Judges have complained the law gives them no ability to impose a greater punishment when the driver was not also convicted of a crime such as DUI, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or reckless driving.  

    Many groups are working to have the Legislature pass a Vulnerable Road User law to give Florida judges the ability to impose jail time and increased fines in these cases where they are cited with only a moving violation. One of the best known laws is the one enacted in Oregon. Many consider it a model for other states. 

    Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?

    If you've been hurt in a Florida bicycle accident you should speak with an experienced bicycle injury 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 Long Will it Take to Settle My Auto Accident Claim in Florida?

    The amount of time it takes to settle an auto accident claim in Florida will depend on a variety of factors. A lawyer will evaluate your case to determine who was negligent, what the extent of your injuries are and what types of compensation (money)  you may be entitled to pursue as well as what insurance is available. All of these factors, plus others will impact how long your case may take to resolve.

    It’s not uncommon to be concerned about how long it will take to settle an auto accident claim in Florida, especially if you have suffered serious injuries. You may be out of work and facing a lot of expenses which require immediate financial help.

    Florida personal injury claims can be very complex. Although many are resolved within a year, cases that require a lawsuit or cases that are complex will take longer to resolve. The process can be made even more complicated where there are devastating injuries requiring prolonged treatment.

    Factors to Consider When Determining How Long it May Take to Settle an Auto Accident Claim

    • whether fault is admitted by the other driver’s insurance company or when they dispute their driver caused the accident and a lawsuit is required to decide the issue.
    • how long it takes to complete medical treatment required for your injuries.
    • whether a settlement amount can be agreed upon or the insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount to settle and
    • whether your attorney has the experience to make sure your case is not being delayed.

    Choosing the right attorney is one of the most important things you can do when pursuing a Florida injury claim. 

    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.

  • When a Car Crashes into the Back End of the Car Ahead, is that Driver Automatically at Fault?

    The driver of a car who rear ends the car ahead is presumed to be at fault in Florida. However, the presumption of negligence is rebuttable, and can be overcome if the driver has evidence they were not at fault.

    Five Reasons Why the Driver Hitting the Car Ahead May Not Be at Fault

    1. The car ahead made an abrupt and arbitrary stop where it would not be expected or made an unexpected lane change;
    2. Sudden brake failure made the rear car hit the lead car;
    3. The brake lights weren’t working on the lead car;
    4. The lead car was illegally and unexpectedly stopped; or
    5. The lead car turned out onto the road in front of the rear car.

    This list is not exhaustive. Every accident involves a unique set of circumstances which requires careful analysis by an experienced attorney. At Jim Dodson Law, we understand the importance of every detail. 

    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 are the Florida Requirements for Driving a Moped, Scooter, or Other 2-3 Wheel Vehicle?

    There are specific requirements for driving a moped, scooter or other 2-3 wheel vehicle in Florida. These are different than the rules governing the operation of other motorized vehicles, including motorcycles.

    These Florida moped requirements can most easily be explained when examining 3 key topics: Licensing, Protection, and Insurance.

    Licensing Requirements for Operating a Moped in Florida

    Licensing requirements for these smaller vehicles are incredibly simple, provided you are not driving on a public street or roadway. Since a moped or scooter is not considered a motorcycle by legal definition, no specific license is required to operate one away from public roadways.

    On public streets and roadways, you must be 16 years of age or older and hold a regular operator or "motorcycle only" license. This is because mopeds, scooters and other 2-3 wheel vehicles are considered "motor vehicles" on public roadways, and thus require a license.

    Protection Requirements for Operating a Moped in Florida

    As long as your vehicle has an engine of 50 cc or less, 2 brake horsepower or less, and cannot go more than 30 miles per hour on level ground, you do not need to wear a helmet. Any passengers younger than 16 years old are required to wear a helmet.

    Insurance Requirements for a Moped in Florida

    Insurance is not required for moped, scooter or other 2-3 wheel vehicle operators in the state of Florida. In some cases, you may be required to purchase insurance if you cause a collision on your moped.

    Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is highly advised if you intend to drive your 2-3 wheel vehicle on public roadways. PIP could help tremendously in the event you are involved in a collision.

    You may be required to register a moped (but not a scooter) with the county tax collector's office. You will be charged a registration fee and will have to renew on an annual basis. Contact your local department of motor vehicles to ensure that you are following the specific requirements for your particular make and model of scooter, moped or similar vehicle.

    Have You Been Injured On A Scooter, Moped, Golf Cart Or ATV?

    You've been hurt in a vehicle accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.