Friday, May 29, 2015

Holding Drivers Responsible for Texting and Driving

In modern times, everyone tends to multitask. With busy schedules, it often seems as if there are not enough hours in the day, so people try to accomplish several things at once. While multitasking is often considered a skill, no one should ever try to multitask while they are behind the wheel of a car. When a driver engages in other tasks while operating a vehicle, the distraction can easily lead to accidents and injuries.

Distracted driving has become an even greater problem with the rise of mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and personal digital assistants (PDAs). People feel the need to be connected at all times, which often leads them to use their read or send messages while they are driving. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports1 that an estimated 660,000 drivers in the United States are actively using some type of electronic device at any given moment during the day. In light of the above statistic, it should not come as a surprise that thousands of people are injured as a result of texting and driving each year.

The dangers of texting and driving
Traffic experts estimate that drivers who are texting look down and away from the road for an estimated five seconds at a time. While five seconds may not seem like that long, a vehicle traveling at 55 miles per hour can travel the length of an entire football field in that time. A driver would likely never consider driving a football field while blindfolded, however, they will look away from the road to read or send a text message or email.

In addition to looking away from the road, a texting driver also must take at least one hand off of the wheel, if not both. A driver's thoughts will also turn to the messages and will not remain focused on the task of driving. Because texting causes visual, physical, and cognitive distractions all at the same time, it is widely considered to be the most dangerous type of driving distraction in modern times. In spite of the educational efforts to communicate the dangers of texting and driving to young drivers as well as the laws against texting and driving, statistics suggest that drivers continually put other at risk of injury by texting.

Texting and negligence per se
Florida law2 prohibits texting while driving, which also includes emailing or any other type of electronic messaging. Following an accident, a driver may receive a citation for texting and driving if law enforcement believes they were violating the law. Such a citation can help in a subsequent auto accident claim in civil court because it lessens the amount of evidence an injured party will need to present to prove their claim.

Generally, a personal injury plaintiff must sufficiently prove that a driver was negligent. This includes proving the following:

  • The defendant had a certain duty of care
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • The breach of duty caused the accident and injuries

When a defendant violates a safety law, a court may use this violation as sufficient evidence to automatically prove negligence under a legal concept called “negligence per se.” This serves as a type of short cut in proving negligence and requires a plaintiff to only prove the losses they suffered as a result of the texting and driving.

How an experienced Clearwater auto accident attorney can help you
If you have suffered injuries in an accident and you believe that the other driver was texting or otherwise unlawfully using a mobile device, your first call should be to speak with an experienced auto accident lawyer at the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida. Our attorneys provide the highest quality of representation and individualized attention for each client. We are committed to helping injured motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians hold distracted drivers accountable for their negligent actions and ensuring that victims receive the maximum amount of compensation they deserve in every case. We offer free consultations with no obligation and never collect a fee unless you are able to recover in your case. Call today for help at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756


Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Does my Attorney Need to Succeed on my Negligent Security Case?

Some of the most tragic cases we deal with as personal injury attorneys are those in which someone is assaulted outside of a restaurant, hotel, or bar, and such injury could have been prevented had the owner of the establishment employed certain security measures. These types of claims are referred to as “negligent security” claims because the theory of the case is that the owner of the business was negligent in failing to have certain measures in place to protect its patrons. Sometimes it is lack of security guards, lack of surveillance videos or adequate lighting that will support the case. In order to succeed on a claim of this type, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the injury he/she has suffered was “foreseeable.” The “foreseeability” requirement has legal significance in that the law will not hold a business establishment responsible for one’s injuries from an attack by a third party unless the business owner should have known an attack was likely to occur and failed to take any steps to prevent it.

Evidence Gathered to Establish Foreseeability

A thorough investigation from the beginning of the case is essential. The following are examples of pieces of the puzzle we as personal injury attorneys utilize in framing a negligent security case:

  1. Photographs of the scene

Of course, the old age, “a picture is worth a thousand words” still holds true. The closer the photograph is to the date of the incident the better. Photographs of the scene near the time of the incident are crucial as they are able to solidify key placement of where the assault occurred in reference to the exit of the premise, the lighting conditions at the time of the incident, and whether any surveillance videos were present. Litigation by its nature often takes years and very often changes to the area are made during this time period. Capturing and memorializing the scene as it was on the date of the incident is therefore vital.

  1. Crime Grids and Police Incident Reports

Crimes Grids and police reports for not only the premise, but the surrounding 1 mile radius will indicate whether there are previously documented reports of similar incidents to support your claim that the business owner should have known an assault was likely to occur.

  1. Code or Premise Violations
    Whether the owner has been cited for any code or premise violations may be obtained through a public records requested. As with crime grids and incident reports, if a business owner demonstrates a previous pattern of violating codes meant to protect patrons, foreseeability of injury may be established.
  2. 911 and Dispatched Tapes

If law enforcement responded to the incident that caused your injury such tapes should be preserved and requested. However, in cases where there is an open investigation tapes may not be available until after the criminal case is complete.

  1. Off-Duty Logs

Logs of off-duty police officers who have been summoned to the scene of the crime in the past should be requested for the previous 3 -4 years in attempts to prove the business owner had notice of the criminal activity on the premise and in the surrounding locale.

  1. CAP Index

The CAP index is a summary measure of crime risk expressed in numerical form for any particular geographic location. The CAP index measures the risk of crime with one representing a low crime risk area and 10 indicating that the area has a very high risk of crime. If an establishment is located in a high crime risk area according to the CAP index and yet the owner has failed to employ measures to keep its patrons safe such as failing to ensure adequate lighting in the parking lot area, the required foreseeability element may be established.

Call Dolman Law Group

            If you’ve suffered from an assault or trauma based on a business owner’s failure to keep his premise safe, you may have a claim for negligent security. The attorneys at Dolman Law Group can assist you in navigating your claim and ensuring that all pertinent evidence is gathered and presented in such a manner as to maximize the success of your case. For more information call 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group

800 North Belcher Road

Clearwater, FL 33765





Friday, May 1, 2015

Emergency Vehicle Accident Injuries

To avoid emergency vehicle accidents, Florida Law requires drivers to yield to responding emergency vehicles approaching an intersection. It also requires drivers to pull over and stop for approaching emergency vehicles in either direction with visual and audible warnings in use. The law is also malleable when it comes to drivers of emergency vehicles obeying traffic lights and signs. However, the drivers responding to emergencies are required to use reasonable caution to assure they arrive safely where their help is needed and do not cause harm to other drivers and pedestrians.  

Hundreds of people are killed or injured each year by police cars, fire engines and ambulances responding to an emergency. If the emergency vehicle is using its lights and siren and collides with another vehicle, or strikes a pedestrian, is the emergency vehicle accident ever the fault of the driver responding? It may be, depending upon several factors. Even though an emergency vehicle has the right of way when responding to an emergency, caution is required. The driver must not assume that his vehicle is seen clearly entering an intersection or approaching from behind. He should assume the contrary. With the increase of distracted drivers and pedestrians on today’s roads, coupled with increased traffic congestion creating noise and obstructing visibility, there is a very good chance that a driver, or pedestrian, is not aware of the vehicles location. Safety should be the highest priority in operating an emergency vehicle. Not only is the safety of the public the concern, but those riding in, or on, the vehicle.

In Sarasota, Florida a total of 15 people were injured in two separate crashes involving ambulances on the same night in January of this year, according to the Sarasota Herald Tribune. At least in one case the crash was the fault of the ambulance driver who plowed into the back of a car stopped at a red light after failing to change lanes. There are many situations that can place the fault with the driver of an emergency vehicle:

  • Excessive speed – A driver operating a vehicle at an excessive speed does not have complete control of the vehicle, as was apparently the case in the Sarasota crash. Other drivers and pedestrians do not have sufficient time to react to allow the emergency vehicle the right of way.
  • Failure to use lights and sirens where required.
  •  A high speed chase that should have been cut off - Police should discontinue a high speed chase if it poses a danger to the public greater than that of fleeing suspect.
  • Emergency personnel responding in their personal vehicles – EMS and firefighters often use excessive speed and break laws to get to their headquarters with vehicles that are improperly fitted with warning signals.
  • Reckless driving – Taking a turn or proceeding though an intersection with little or no regard to the safety of others.

Anyone injured in an accident involving an emergency vehicle has the right to sue to recover medical expenses and for pain and suffering. In many case it is the governmental agency that is the subject of the suit. There are great complexities in cases involving a city, county or state. To navigate through this legal maze an experienced emergency vehicle accident lawyer is required. This attorney will know the traps and pitfalls that are laid out to discourage litigation and deter large settlements.

Dolman Law has attorneys who know the paths that lead to victory in cases involving injuries or death due to improperly operated emergency vehicles. If you or a loved one suffered due to the irresponsible actions of an emergency vehicle driver, reach out to us today by phone or through this website. You need a skilled law firm in your corner to help you. That law firm is Dolman Law. Call for a free evaluation of your case today.  

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765