Shooting and Personal Injury, Part II

five-am-club-2-581761-mIn the last blog post, we wrote a bit about how a shooting can be ruled a form of battery and heard in a personal injury court.  Just after writing that piece, we were reading more about another shooting in the Tampa area.

In this case, it was a 14-year-old boy who was shot and killed.  It was a drive-by shooting, and although the suspects have not been named or found, there is reason to believe that the killing was a form of retaliation.  This comes after the 14-year-old had served as a witness in a stabbing case months before.

This wasn’t the boy’s first run-in with trouble.  Shortly after being a witness, he was robbed at gun point.  Arrests were made in that case, but this time, the police did not arrive until after the shooters had taken off.

The 14-year-old was rushed to the hospital, but it was too late, and he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Of course, the family has the right to seek damages.  They can hire a personal injury attorney to sue the perpetrators because it was a form of assault. Given the intent to kill and the severity of the situation, it would likely be ruled a worthwhile case, and the personal injury attorney would likely begin by digging into the facts of the case as well as the perpetrators’ criminal records.

In the previous blog post, for instance, we spoke about an argument between an ex-husband and a current husband that turned deadly.  The ex-husband, who was the shooter, had an extensive arrest history, which did include cases of battery.  It is clear that this man did not have a problem threatening and harming others.  This history will obviously hurt the defendant’s case.

Unfortunately, regardless of the criminal history, and despite the severity of the offense, the courts cannot award damages unless there is evidence that the defendant named was, in fact, the person who committed the assault.  Police in this case say that the 14-year-old’s friends were there at the time of the shooting, but that they chose to leave the scene before the police arrived.  It is very likely, especially given the fact that this is being unofficially deemed a case of retaliation for police cooperation, which those who witnessed the crime will choose to remain unnamed.  They are not likely to step forward and provide testimony because they fear for their own lives.  Without evidence, personal injury cases are lost before they begin.


Why a Shooting Can Be the Reason for a Personal Injury Case

glock-29-replica-5-1249009-mRight down the road from your Tampa home, police were busy charging a man with second-degree murder after they had discovered the lifeless body of his victim.  That body belonged to his ex-wife’s new husband, who he reportedly shot in the midst of an argument.

Alfred Lester III was 38 years old when his life was taken from him, according to  This after a fight between he and Orin Bivens, ten years his senior, ended with Bivens pulling out a weapon.  Lester never made it to the hospital or other medical facility.  He never even made it off the floor of the apartment complex breezeway.

His wife, the shooter’s ex, had shared her vows with him just a few short months before.  She is now left a widow, and likely wondering how she will overcome the mental, emotional, and financial turmoil with a husband deceased and her ex-husband going to prison. So, can she sue her ex-husband for the damages suffered?

According to personal injury law, a shooting is a form of assault.  This is the reason why you will often hear the phrase “assault with a deadly weapon” in law-related news.  Because it is a form of assault, it does fall under the realm of tort law, and a personal injury lawsuit can be filed against the perpetrator.

Being that she is the wife of the deceased, she does have the right to seek a lawsuit against her ex-husband.  The damages calculated by the courts, should she win her case, would likely include current and future lost wages, burial expenses, and possibly even pain and suffering because her husband was taken from her in such a gruesome manner.

It is important to understand with personal injury law, however, that the courts are not going to demand that the negligent party pay more than he or she can afford.  Thus, the damages awarded could be far less, in cases like this, that what are actually deserved.  If, though, it can be proven that there was negligence on the part of some other party, then more than one defendant could be named.  For instance, if it was determined that the apartment complex did too little to protect the residents of the building, then there is the potential that it could be named in the case, or that a separate lawsuit would be filed in order to collect compensation for the remaining damages.


Are DUIs Really “High School Problems”?

high-school-woes-1173688-mThis blog post was inspired by a recent Twitter feed, on which I saw the following Tweet, from an account entitled “High School Problems”:

If you get pulled over for a DUI, you should get 1 chance to beat Rainbow Road on Mario Kart w/o falling off.  If you can, you’re free to go.

There are numerous things about this tweet which are bothersome. We all understand that teens, young adults, and even those of us who have been in the working world for a while are going to want to let loose and have fun from time to time.  Yet, we want to know that our children are going to be safe and responsible when doing so.

Problem #1:  A sense of humor is a wonderful thing.  The joke isn’t likely intended to encourage drinking and driving, but for the most vulnerable and most easily influenced segment of the population – tweens and teens – it could be read as just that.  Despite all of the evidence in the news, and despite the law against it, many people still climb behind the wheel while inebriated.  They risk their own lives, as well as the lives of all of the other people they encounter while driving.

Problem #2: Should this really be classified as a “high school problem”?  How terrifying is it that our teenagers are considering possible DUI among the obstacles that they face?  The average person graduates high school between 17 and 19 years of age.  The legal drinking age is 21.

This is just further proof of how important it is to talk with our children and to set a good example from a very early age.  Those who see it as a minor offense, or something that “everyone does” and only a few get fined for, are far more likely to give it a try themselves.  Don’t let your pre-teen see you drinking and driving, or this may really become his or her high school problem.

Revisiting the term “Wrongful Death”

stair-with-diagonal-handrail-1349471-mThere are a lot of myths and misconceptions tied to the term “wrongful death” and, as such, it is very important for victims and their families to understand exactly what constitutes a wrongful death case.

Let me use the example of a recent case that involved the death of a woman who slipped and fell on some stone stairs while walking home from a concert.  At nearly 70, she still knew how to enjoy a good time with friends. She was completely sober when she and a friend encountered a slippery step on the stone staircase.  While her friend was able to regain her balance, this woman was not so fortunate.  The hit she sustained to her head made her lose consciousness and she never fully woke again.

The family filed a wrongful death suit.  Despite the many misunderstandings, this is a true example of wrongful death.  Such a case can be filed against any negligent party whose actions (or lack of action) resulted in the untimely death of a victim.

Cases this like are filed because the incidents can place a great deal of emotional and financial burden on the families of the victims.  This woman, for instance, was in the hospital for more than a month as a result of her knock to the head.  She was held in a coma state until the time of her death.  The cost of a hospital stay like that can easily climb into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Not only does the family have to pay for her staying in the room for 30+ nights, they must also pay for the medications and other care received during her stay.

In addition to medical costs, the courts consider any property damage that might have been suffered, and any lost wages that the victim would have otherwise received, if not for the accident.  Lost wages are not just those suffered up until the time of death, but also all of those wages that would have been earned until the time of retirement.  A case of wrongful death is certainly worth a call to a personal injury attorney.


Negligence Caused the Fire

emergency-phone-boxes-1443349-mYou might have heard the story of the fire at the local Middle School, not far from your Tampa home.  According to police reports, the fire started in the main office, which was badly damaged by the blaze.  The fire also reached a second office before being extinguished.  Undoubtedly, the damage done will require a great deal of time and money to repair.

Onlookers were saying that the flames were rolling from the building and that they assumed that it would consume the whole building, but the firefighters acted fast, saving much of the building, with the exception of the two offices.

The sad part is that the whole ordeal could have been avoided.  The latest information has blamed an overloaded power strip for the sudden, unexpected flames. Too many items plugged into the same receptacle caused an electrical overload.  Today, in most places, likely including your own home, circuit breakers are in place to prevent a blaze like that which took place at the school.  The breaker would pop, cutting off the flow of electricity to that outlet.  But, that didn’t happen in the school.  We were reminded of the danger of plugging too much into a single outlet.  It is a fire hazard, even in today’s world.

Negligence was certainly at play and whoever was responsible for the overloaded strip and the lack of safety features that would have prevented the fire was fortunate that no children were harmed in the fire.  This was an unnecessary risk that is very likely going to cost the district a great deal.  It is not yet clear if any action will be taken against those involved in the incident.

If you are involved or harmed in a fire that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you do have the right to seek legal damages.  Consult a personal injury attorney for more information.

Is There A Minimum Personal Injury Claim Settlement?

dollar-2-1003609-mVery often people will avoid coming to a personal injury attorney for help because they feel that their cases are not worth enough and that suing isn’t an option as a result.  It is important to understand, however, that there is no minimum personal injury claim settlement.  If you are involved in a Tampa auto accident, because another person was drinking and driving, texting while behind the wheel, or partaking in some other dangerous behavior on the road, you have the right to seek compensation for your losses.  It doesn’t matter if those repairs and medical expenses add up to $3,000 or $300,000. The courts are there to protect the innocent against the negligence of others.

That being said, there are some cases that personal injury attorneys will turn away.  Some of these cases will be turned down because the damages don’t amount to enough money to justify the attorney’s time and efforts.  Before you shake your head and turn away, however, understand that many cases are worth more than the victims believe.

In order to understand this, you must first comprehend how settlements are figured.  Those involved — whether it is the attorneys, a third party arbitrator, a judge, or a jury – will look at the nature, extent, and cost of the injuries suffered.  In addition to this, other financial considerations will be made.  What were the repair expenses?  Will this alter the future insurance premiums of the victim?  Was the victim forced to miss work as a result of the accident?  If so, what is the total of the lost wages?  Even more compensation may be added if the injury is expected to cause long term suffering, the need for future medical care, and the continuation of lost or reduced wages.

Even if an attorney suggests that your case isn’t a good fit for him or her, you should not be afraid to get a second opinion.  Even in worst case circumstances, you can take the other party to small claims court for damages up to $5,000.  If you feel that you have a case, regardless of what you consider the value to be, you should speak to a personal injury attorney.  It is worth receiving an experienced, educated opinion regarding your chances of success and the perceived value of the case.

Why Would You Want To Settle Out Of Court?

handshake-616726-mVery often clients will come to our personal injury attorney office expecting us to quickly start planning for a courtroom trial.  Television and movies have really made this idea a popular misconception, but the truth is that the majority of cases are resolved before anyone steps foot in the courtroom.  In fact, our court systems rely on the fact that it is good to settle out of court.  If that was not the truth, the courts would be so clogged with cases that they would never be able to keep up.

It is not just the court system that benefits from cases being settled before trial.  You can reap a lot of benefits when this happens as well.  Consider the following advantages.

  1. Less Time Between Claim and Payment. People don’t file lawsuits for no reason at all.  In most instances, there are injuries or repairs that need to be paid.  Cases that go to court can drag on for many months and even years in some instances.  That is a long time to wait for a decision and for the subsequent payments.  It can be financially draining to wait for so long before receiving compensation for losses suffered.
  2. Definite Financial Compensation. The most common reason that people accept settlements is because they don’t want to deal with the stress of the trial. There is no guarantee that the judge or jury will decide in your favor.  Though personal injury attorneys with experience will be able to judge, with near certainty, what the chances of winning are, you still must wait for the decision of the court.  You could win or lose, get as much as requested, more, or less.  In the meantime, you must wait… and that means worry and stress.
  3. Less Pay to the Attorney. As the attorney, you may believe that it is crazy of me to highlight this fact, but it is the truth. In most cases, a client will pay less when we settle out of court, but we also don’t have as much time and paperwork tied up in the process at that point, so we are typically willing to accept the lower rate.

What is an Insurance Demand Letter?

note-pad-1206626-mIf you were recently involved in a Tampa auto accident, then you are very likely about to have a very important conversation with your insurance company about the necessary repairs and medical care needed as a result of the impact.  Generally, the insurance company will assess the facts of the case and the damage done and put together a settlement offer that is meant to cover the resulting expenses. However, that initial settlement proposal won’t always be enough to cover the medical costs.  This is why the insurance demand letter is so important.

A demand letter is an opportunity for the insured party to formally introduce the facts of the case and to list the costs associated with the crash.  There are a few things that you must be aware of before you begin writing this letter.

  1. You must have reached the point of maximum healing. That is to say that you must be at a state where you require no further medical attention for injuries suffered as a result of the accident.
  2. You must have a clear, concise, and convincing writing style. This is one of the reasons why people seek the assistance of personal injury attorneys, who are both trained in recovering evidence and in writing persuasive documents.
  3. You must showcase evidence. Whether you hire the attorney or not, you will need to prove what was spent and where that money went.  In addition to the medical records, bills, and information regarding any lost wages, you should include a recounting of events, as well as a personal statement about the recovery process. Be sure to include details about any weather or road conditions at the time of the accident that might have played a part in the crash, as well as police reports and citations against other parties in the accident.


What Drivers Should Know About Lane Splitting

bankok-traffic-2-920953-mIf you don’t know what lane splitting is, then you are running a big risk on the road, particularly this time of the year.  Even if you have never ridden a motorcycle, and never intend to ride one, you should still be familiar with some of the common practices of bikers.  While most riders are very conscientious of others, there are those that give the others a bad name.

Lane splitting is one of the very controversial practices generally reserved for those commuters on two wheels.  It is the act of riding between two rows of stopped traffic.  It is generally a move used when in a traffic jam.

It is important to understand that this does occur, especially when on a long road trip.  As you navigate unfamiliar roads and try to contend with heavy traffic around busy cities, it is important to recognize the possibility that a biker might unexpectedly split the lanes.  If you are trying to change lanes or pass someone when that motorcycle cuts through, the outcomes can be devastating.

There are still some states that recognize lane splitting as a legal maneuver; others have no official legislation in place with regard to the maneuver.  In the state of Florida, a biker that is lane splitting, and is subsequently involved in an accident, will be forced to accept liability.  This state considers the act of lane splitting a prohibited maneuver.

While it is considered an illegal maneuver in Florida, if a Tampa auto accident occurs and the other driver did something (or didn’t do something) that also contributed to the accident, the biker may not be fully responsible for the resulting damages.

This is called shared liability.  The courts will consider the actions of both (or all) parties to an accident, and will assess a percentage of liability to each based on their findings.  If the driver of a passenger vehicle changes lanes without signaling, failing to see the lane splitting biker, he or she could, in fact, carry a large percentage of the liability.  This is why it is so important to consult a personal injury attorney.  A professional can help you collect the evidence needed to prove that you were not negligent in the accident, or at least, to lessen the percentage of liability that falls on your shoulders.

Fibromyalgia Pain: Relationships and Careers Ruined

sunset-graciosa-beach-1384968-mAs a personal injury attorney dealing with the aftermath of Tampa auto accidents on a regular basis, I have certainly seen some very traumatic injuries resulting from those crashes.  However, the most devastating are not always the most visibly apparent.  While physical disfigurement is its own form of torture, living with constant, invisible pain comes with countless challenges.  Fortunately, fibromyalgia pain is now being more readily recognized and appreciated, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is no cure and its victims have to regularly live with the physical symptoms, as well as the anguish that comes with the knowledge that others don’t believe their complaints are legitimate.

Among the most widely known symptoms of fibro – pain and fatigue – there are many other complications that can arise as a result of the condition.  Among those are urinary and pelvis concerns, which can be devastating to a person’s way of life, to relationships, and to his or her professional standing.

These symptoms are most commonly seen in female patients, but some can be just as troubling for men with fibromyalgia.

Bladder Incontinence. The inability to control urine flow is obviously troubling and can be a big issue when out in public – particularly in a professional setting.

Urinary Frequency and Urgency. This refers to the need to urinate more than usual (up to every 20 minutes for some fibro sufferers) and the intense, sudden urge to go that can leave a person feeling panicked.

Painful Intercourse. Dyspareunia is the term used to refer to pain or discomfort when engaging in sexual intercourse.  The pain can be so intense as to make this act impossible, which can be highly straining on marriages and romantic relationships.

Abdominal Bloating. It is difficult to feel attractive and confident when contending with regular abdominal bloating.  It can cause loss of appetite and even result in depression if not treated.

Urinary Tract Infections. UTIs are more common in females with fibromyalgia.  The frequent bouts of discomfort, fever, and pain when going can cause women to miss a lot of work and can make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible during periods of infection.