A Few Things to Consider before Filing a Lawsuit

courthouse-1330873-mIf you were recently involved in a Tampa auto accident, if you suffered a serious slip and fall because of a company’s negligence, or you fell ill because of tainted food products, then you are likely considering the option to take the case to court and collect compensation for your losses. However, it is a good idea to consider the answers to the following questions before tying up your time and money filing a lawsuit.

What Are The Chances of Winning the Case? This is a question that a personal injury attorney can help you answer. In fact, the initial meeting with a lawyer won’t generally cost you anything out-of-pocket. There are many factors that are weighed in determining if a case is worth taking to court. Two of the most important things to think about are the amount of damage done and whether it is possible to prove that someone else was at fault. Very often the medical bills and repair expenses are minimal when compared to court fees, legal fees, and time requirements necessary for following through with a lawsuit. In other instances, even when very serious injuries are sustained, it can be very difficult to prove that another person or entity was responsible. However, this is not something you should consider lightly. Talk to an attorney for a better understanding of possible sources of evidence.

Can You Settle Outside of Court? Before filing with the courts, ask your attorney about the possibility of reaching a settlement with the other party outside the courtroom. In many cases, negligent parties are willingly to pay the necessary sums in order to avoid the cost of going to court.

Can The Defendant Afford to Pay Damages? If the guilty party does not have the insurance or assets necessary to afford the medical and repair expenses related to the accident, then suing is not going to do much for you. In cases like this, very often the victim ends up worse off because the damages are never paid, but time and money were spent of fighting the case due to filing a lawsuit.

Is There Any Reason Why You Can’t Legally File The Case? Generally, if there is clear evidence that a person or entity has caused you harm, you can legally take the case to court. However, the law does stipulate how much time you have to do so. The Statute of Limitations varies depending on the type of case, the defendant in question, and the state in which you live. In Florida, the timelines are reasonable, but this is still something to consider before filing.

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Switching Attorneys in the Middle of a Case

lawyers-140579-mEvery year we are approached by several people who are looking to switch personal injury attorneys. The reasons can vary substantially. In many cases, it is simply personality conflicts that cause a rift between an attorney and his or her client. Other times, lines of communication are not operating efficiently and people are left frustrated by that. If you are the person who has entrusted a lawyer to represent you, and, for whatever reason, feel that the relationship is not working properly, you do have the right to seek another attorney.

It is important to understand that switching attorneys can involve some out-of-pocket expenses. Often, there is an initial understanding between an attorney and client that there will be no cost until the case has been settled. However, when the agreement is terminated before that end is reached, the lawyer will generally expect to be compensated for the work completed to date. Also, attorneys will often foot the bill for filing fees and other court-related expenses, with the understanding that this money will reimbursed when the case is closed and he or she receives a percentage of the awarded damages.

This is something that should be discussed when consulting with a new personal injury attorney. Very often the professional that you hire as a replacement can assist you in working out the terms with the first lawyer. In fact, there may be an opportunity to roll those fees into the total lawyer bill upon settling the case. This means that both attorneys will have to reach an agreement. For this reason, very often the cost of switching attorneys remains minimal because the two firms can arrange to split the earnings. The amount that you will pay, once damages have been awarded, might change slightly, but overall, the costs of switching to an attorney that better suits your needs is minimal and will likely result in a better turnout anyway.

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A Refresher in Florida Statute of Limitations

that-hurt-494062-mIt is important to understand, should you ever be involved in a car accident, that injuries are not always immediately evident; therefore, you should pay attention to the statute of limitations. Not only does the initial surge of adrenaline do a lot to mask pain, but there are also certain types of internal harm that can showcase little or no symptom for hours, days, or even weeks after an accident.

Conscientious people will often hesitate to bring someone to court over a Tampa auto accident. However, when it suddenly becomes clear that a minor pain in the neck the morning after the accident is much more than strained muscles, medical bills can appear much more intimidating and the need for financial compensation will often be too great to ignore. The courts do protect the victims of such accidents and they do allow for those injuries that do not immediately appear. However, they do not provide a limitless timeline for the case to be filed against negligent parties.

Referred to as the Statute of Limitations, this time stipulation ensures that people aren’t misusing the legal system by filing lawsuits years after an accident occurs. In the case of a Tampa auto accident, Florida law stipulates that the case must be filled within four years of the date of the accident. However, there is tighter limitations applied to cases in which the defendant is a city, county, or state government. Remember, courts are more likely to be skeptical regarding the actual injuries suffered if it takes years for a person to get around to building a lawsuit.

It is important to know and understand the statute of limitations. The best approach is to seek legal representation as soon as it is evident that injuries have occurred as a result of a car accident. A personal injury attorney can help you gather necessary information and get the paperwork filed with the courts within the legally allowed time span.

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Can a Motorcyclist Without A Helmet Win a Tort Lawsuit?

rider-216778-mLet me begin by saying that the vast majority of motorcyclists are doing what they can to be safe on the road, while enjoying the sense of freedom that a bike provides. However, we have all seen the bikers that insist on weaving in and out of traffic, at high speeds, with no helmet and inadequate clothing. Can it possibly be fair to assume that a person riding with no helmet could file and win a tort lawsuit against another driver?

It doesn’t matter how the biker is outfitted. When he or she is the victim in a car accident, there is just as much right to compensation. However, if the major injury – leading to the need for medical care – is head or neck damage, the rules may vary.

In Florida, riders over the age of 21, with appropriate insurance, can legally ride without a helmet. Some states mandate that all riders where a protective helmet when riding. In those states, it can be difficult for motorcyclists, having received head and neck injuries in an accident while not wearing a helmet, to collect any damages in a tort lawsuit at all. Even in Florida, with the more lax helmet laws, the defendant’s attorney would fight hard for the case that a helmet would have protected against the injuries suffered and, in choosing not to wear one, the rider was negligent.

That is not to say that you, as a Tampa auto accident victim, could not collect compensation for your losses just because you chose to ride without a helmet. However, if the courts determine that you were negligent to some degree, the awarded funds could be less than if you had worn the proper head gear.

The lesson to be learned here is, for safety’s sake and also to protect yourself financially in the event of an accident, wear a helmet while you ride.

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Traveling With Man’s Best Friend

waiting-and-watching-974073-mAre you planning a road trip for the holiday season? Will your four-legged friend be riding along? If you are going to be taking a long drive with man’s best friend, you better start planning. Driving with a dog in the car can be very dangerous if not done right. The entire traveling experience is altered, in fact, when there is a dog in tow.

While many canines are great car riders, that is certainly not the case with all of them. Some can become overly stressed, making them prone to whining, wetting, and sudden neediness. All of this can be a big distraction to the driver – you – and increase the likelihood of a Tampa auto accident, putting your traveling to a stop almost before it begins.

In order to ensure that your dog is safe, happy, and not distracting your efforts, consider the following:

Plan Stops. Dogs will need to take breaks from the car as much as any human will. While you might want to cut down on travel time, regular stops can help ease your dog’s anxiety and make the trip less stressful for all involved. Try to choose areas that are not overly burdened with other people and pets, so your dog can unwind, relieve himself, and be ready to go when you are.

Crate or Buckle. No, you don’t want to restrain your beloved pet because you don’t want to upset him, but consider the fact that this action could save his life. Much like putting a crying child into a car seat, you must consider your dog’s safety, and your own. Crating or using a harness that allows a seat belt to be used on the dog will keep the animal at bay while you drive, thereby reducing the risk of a car accident.

Collar and Leash. Whenever exiting the vehicle, it is important to ensure that your pet is properly collared and leashed (with dog tags). This prevents the chances that the animal gets overly excited and gets away from you. Should your dog take off, out of your grasp, he could run in front of a moving vehicle. The loss of your dog would be enough to suffer, but then you might also have to consider what it would be like to face a personal injury attorney in court, should the accident result in the need for vehicle repairs, medical care, and lost work for the driver (and possible passengers) of any other vehicle involved.

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Construction Accidents: Falling Objects

construction-1-1338553-mSeveral times, I have written about the potential dangers that exist on construction sites and yet, until now, I have overlooked a big one. That same mistake has been made by thousands of people this year alone, because it is easy to forget that work being done overhead could make something as simple as crossing the length of a building a dangerous task. In fact, being struck by falling objects is the second leading cause of fatal construction accidents at work sites (coming in just behind physically falling). More than 80 people will die this year because they weren’t able to get out of the way of something falling from a rooftop, from scaffolding, from metal framework, or elsewhere.

There are many mistakes that can be made that increase the risk of falling objects hitting, hurting, or even killing individuals on a job site, but there are also steps that can be taken to prevent these serious accidents.

Barricades. While the workers on a job site are likely equipped with hard hats and an understanding of the type of work being done, pedestrians are not. For that reason, innocent, unknowing members of the public should be protected with barricades, which keep them far from any potential hazards.

Safety Gear. As mentioned above, anyone who will be within range of potentially falling objects should be equipped with safety gear. A hard hat will protect the head, but falling things are not always hard, or solid. It is also wise to provide protection to the body and the eyes when potentially harmful chemicals are being used on-site.

Signage. Proper signage will remind people on the ground that work is being done above. That way, they will know to stay clear of the “drop zone.”

Equipment Inspection. Bad equipment leaves those working at great heights and those working down below at great risk. All equipment should be properly inspected at the start of every job.

Education. Instructing workers on proper working etiquette can save a lot of lives and defend against serious injury. Workers who will be doing their jobs above ground level should, for instance, know the rules for securing tools and themselves.

Anyone hurt on a job site has the right to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer may be able to help that victim collect monetary damages needed to pay medical expenses and other related costs.

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How Tampa Weather Can Affect Your Car

raindrops-1436561-mRain. While the average rainstorm in Tampa is nothing to worry about, some Tampa weather, such as heavy rains or water logged roads, can cause damage to vehicles. Flooding is always a concern – on many levels – partly because of the damage it can cause to vehicles not stored in garages.

The vehicle’s intake system is highly susceptible to water. When moisture enters, it can find its way to the cylinders and pistons. When these compress, the water causes undue pressure and can potentially destroy the engine. Similarly, the braking system and transmission can be damaged by excessive moisture. In the transmission, it can cause gears to slip. Hot brakes can warp when splashed with cold water that has built up on the roadway. This can lead to a definite vibration when driving. Worse yet, driving through deep puddles can allow water to enter the brake lines, which could ultimately cause the brakes to fail.

It is important to note that if you are driving on very wet roads, and pass through puddles, pump your brakes once you are on drier ground. This will help to squeeze out any water captured in the brake pads.

Flooding can cause far more issues for Tampa weather conditions. Interiors can be ruined, water can enter the oil pan and cause increased friction in the engine, and electrical components can be destroyed. Many of these problems may not be immediately evident, but will arise over time, which is why it is essential to ensure used cars have not been exposed to flood waters.

Sunshine. We certainly have our fair share of beautiful days in this part of Florida, but sunshine is not always a good thing. Direct sunlight can heat the interior of the car drastically. Parked in a sunny spot, a car’s steering wheel can reach temperatures greater than 159 degrees. While the sunlight can cause sunspots in the paint job or an overall dulling of the car’s exterior, the excessive heat can damage car interiors, cause doors and window seals to warp, thereby causing air leaks, and can even reduce the effectiveness of air bags in Tampa auto accidents.

Just think, we are still considered lucky compared to the car owners in the north, where cold, snow, ice, and road salt can wreak havoc on vehicles. Still, you should be sure that you are doing what you can to protect your car to not only get the best possible trade-in value, but also protect against potential Tampa auto accidents. If you are involved in an accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney.

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WARNING: Exhaustion Behind the Wheel

so-tired-303872-mNEWS FLASH: We are tired! As a collective, the vast majority of this nation can be lumped under one category, and that is “exhausted.” The media feeds us stories about the importance of sleep just days after running a story on how the number of people suffering from insomnia continues to rise. Better yet, the shelves at local grocery stores are stockpiled with energy drinks, power bars, and vitamin supplements, all of which are aimed at making us feel more awake, more alert as we go about our day.

Unfortunately, when everyone is feeling so utterly fatigued, the roads become an even bigger hazard than they already were. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 100,000 accidents related to driver fatigue each year. This is thought to be a very conservative estimate as there is no good way to measure the level of exhaustion a driver is feeling at the time of an accident. Fatigue does cloud the brain, make it more difficult to do simple tasks, and drastically slow one’s reaction time. Worse yet, it causes people to fall asleep behind the wheel every day. It is as dangerous, if not more so, than drunk driving.

Why are we so tired? It’s pretty simple to understand if you think about it. As a culture, we place a great deal of stress upon ourselves to be more, do more, and make more. We are working ridiculously long hours – with executives putting more time into a single position, while lower paid workers struggle to maintain multiple jobs. On top of that, parents carry a great deal of guilt around with them today. As such, they feel the need to keep their children more active in sports, recreation, social events, and educational tasks. When the kids are busy, so are the parents. In a recent study, it was reported that working parents today are spending more time with their children, on average, than stay-at-home mothers of generations past. There is a great deal of pressure to have the nicest, cleanest home, with the best landscaped yard, the smartest and most well-rounded children, and the job that others would envy. Yet, this leaves very little time for sleep and sanity … very little time to get rested before heading to the office each morning.

Fatigued driving kills … frequently. It’s not worth the risk, so if you find yourself regularly drowsy behind the wheel, it is time to reconsider the priorities in your life. All of those achievements will mean very little should you die in a Tampa auto accident.

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When Construction Vehicles Cause Accidents

sign-1-714551-mMany efforts have been made in recent years to ensure that construction workers are kept safe while working on busy roadways, bridges, and other such areas. Speed limits have been changed, penalties, and fines for traffic violations have been increased, and safety gear has been made more readily available for construction zones, in many instances. Yet, there were still more than 85,000 construction zone accidents in 2010, according to the U.S. DOT. Of those, more than 500 involved fatalities and another 26,000 involved injuries.

It is no surprise that the majority of these accidents occurred during the busiest traffic hours – which just so happen to correspond to the hours most likely to see construction workers on the road – 8:00 am to 5:00pm. However, what might come as a surprise is that in a notable percentage of those cases, the victim was not a construction worker.

Far more than half of the fatal accidents that occur in construction zones are seen in areas with a speed limit of 55 mph or more. With construction vehicles coming and going, and transitioning within those spaces, there is often little warning to the driver of a passenger car.

Dump trucks, cement trucks, paving trucks, and other such heavy equipment must enter and leave the construction site at various times of the day. If the operators of that equipment are not paying close attention, an accident is very likely and the results are often devastating.

Florida construction vehicles often cross busy roadways, back up, and spin around in order to get a better angle on the work to be completed and when traffic is already backed, bottle-necked, or just beginning to slow entering the work zone, a Tampa auto accident is likely. It is important to understand that you do have rights when you are the victim in an accident. It is possible to collect damages to cover repair costs, lost wages, and medical expenses.

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Timber! A Fallen Tree On Neighboring Property

fallen-tree-1375136-mNeighbor-versus-neighbor scenarios are all too common in the personal injury lawyer’s realm. Unfortunately, just because two people live next door to each other doesn’t imply that they will get along. In many cases, the fight starts over something as ordinary as a fallen tree. It is important to understand the laws when it comes to trees, so these battles can be better prevented.

Trimming a Tree. Whatever portion of a tree that hangs over your property line boundary is yours to trim. Whether you own it, or your neighbor does, a tree’s limbs can be trimmed by you if they are hanging in your yard. However, try to remember that you wouldn’t want a neighbor butchering your landscaping, so treat such situations with respect. When you trim, do so in a delicate manner to ensure the tree is not harmed or made unsightly.

Harvest Time. While trimming falls well within your rights when a tree’s branches infringe on your property, the fruit bore by that tree is not yours. That belongs, legally, to the owner of the tree and should not be picked without permission.

When a Tree Falls. Homeowners are always responsible for the tree falls on their property. Ignorance to an internal issue within the tree is no excuse, so if a tree topples into a neighbor’s house or yard, the owner of the tree must pay the damages or else he or she will likely face a lawsuit. As a homeowner, it is wise to regularly inspect trees for any sign of damage or death that could cause it to fall.

Tree Removal is Not Mandatory. Just because you dislike the leaves, pine needles, or rotten fruit that have blown or fallen into your yard because of a neighbor’s tree doesn’t mean that you have the right to cut it or harm it in anyway (unless it is the limbs over your yard). Unless the tree is deemed a hazard, no one can force a homeowner to take it down.

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