When Should You Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Were you injured in an accident with a truck driver? Did you know that you may be entitled to compensation for any injuries that you may have sustained?

Due to the disparity in the weight of a truck and other vehicles, the consequences of a commercial truck accident are catastrophic. It is a known fact that a fully-loaded truck weighs over 25 times more than a car, so a collision can be fatal.

However, it is important that you know that if you or someone you love has been in an accident, you may be eligible to receive damages for your injuries by filing a claim against the at-fault party.

You can sue all of the parties responsible for your accident and resulting injuries. You can sue even if you were partially responsible for your accident. You should hire a lawyer since accident liability law tends to be extremely complex.

Filing a lawsuit when you were partially at fault

You can still sue for compensation even when you were partially at fault. Some states use comparative negligence to determine compensation for the plaintiff when he or she was partially at fault. Your final settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault that you hold. For example, if you were 15% at fault then your final settlement will be reduced by 15%.

Injuries that the general person may sustain:

  • Was the injured person driving a motor vehicle?
  • Was the person injured a minor?
  • Where was the person when he or she was injured?
  • Were warning signs posted where the injury occurred?
  • Was the risk of danger obvious?

Figuring Out Who Was Responsible for Your Accident

It’s important for you to discover all of the people who were responsible for your accident. This will allow you to get compensation from them before the statute of limitations passes. The truck driver is obviously responsible. Other less obvious responsible parties include:

  • Insurance company
  • Employers
  • The companies that manufactured the vehicle
  • Government entities
  • Trucking agencies
  • Contractors

Which Legal Strategy Is Best?

You can choose to settle your case out of court. You can choose mediation or arbitration. A lawyer will help choose the best strategy for you. A good lawyer will guide you regarding when to file your lawsuit and help you resolve the dilemma of whether to litigate or settle it faster out of court. At Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group, we are here to help you through the whole legal process and our team of lawyers are always available to discuss your case. Call in at (772) 569-8155 for scheduling a no-obligation free initial consultation today.

Why Do You Need a Lawyer When Filing A Workers’ Comp Case?

You may need a lawyer when filing a worker’s comp case. It just depends on many factors though. You’ll file a worker’s comp case if you’ve ever gotten hurt or sick while working. You will, however, need a lawyer if you were seriously hurt or got extremely sick while working and your employer is telling you that this was not his/her fault.

Represent yourself

That said, you probably shouldn’t. You can represent yourself and get workers’ comp benefits only if the following apply:

  • You have a minor injury
  • You have hardly missed any work
  • Your employer admits that you got sick or hurt while working.
  • You don’t have a pre-existing condition or illness.

When Do You Need a Lawyer?

All things being equal, you’re better off hiring a lawyer no matter how well you know him or her and get along with him or her and no matter how minor your injuries are. He or she will guide you about the realities of your case during the free initial consultation. You may learn that representing yourself wouldn’t have worked because your case was more complex than you thought it was.

You should definitely hire a good lawyer if your worker’s comp case is complex. Conditions that would make this true include:

  • Your employer doesn’t think that you got sick or ill while working and denies your claim
  • You didn’t get compensation for lost income or medical bills in your settlement offer
  • You’ve been permanently disabled and are no longer able to work in the same capacity
  • You get or will get social security benefits
  • A third party or co-worker caused your accident or illness
  • You think that you were penalized or treated unfairly at work because you filed a workers’ comp claim.

Hire Lawyers to Get Worker’s Comp Benefits

It’s not uncommon for employers and their workers’ comp insurance companies to either deny workers’ comp claims or underpay them. Many injured or sick workers find that a workers’ comp lawyer can help them get the compensation that they want and need.

About 39% of people hired a lawyer because they felt intimidated either by their employer or by the entire process of filing a worker’s comp claim. 46% of people said that they hired a lawyer because they thought their claims had been denied. In reality, their claims had not yet been entered into the system.

Other workers who had been hurt on the job hired lawyers for various other reasons. These included the nature of their injuries, how many people their employers hired, how long they had been working with their employers, and their age.

How A Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help You?

Workers comp lawyers do the following for their clients:

  • File all pertinent forms by the deadline
  • Communicate with your insurance company on your behalf
  • Gather any medical evidence that would support your claim or case
  • Get you the fairest settlement possible
  • Protect your rights by writing a settlement agreement
  • Represent you at hearings when needed

Workers’ comp lawyers tend to charge you a percentage of your settlement. That means that they get paid only if you win.

You should hire a worker’s comp lawyer if your claim or case is complex. This will increase the odds of you winning the case. Contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155 and learn more about how we can help.

What You Can Do If You Haven’t Been Able To Get Social Security Benefits

You can apply for social security benefits but there is a good chance that your application will be denied. More than half of social security applications are. Timing is an issue if you are appealing a social security rejection so here are some things that you should know!

Why Was Your Application Not Accepted?

It’s important for you to thoroughly read the reason(s) why the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your application. It makes collecting the necessary documents to appeal the denial easier. Most social security applications are denied because:

  • You make more than $940 a month. You will be automatically denied if you make more than the income cap.
  • You’ll recover in less than 12 months
  • You didn’t follow the treatment plan your doctor set for you. There are some exceptions though:
    • You can’t afford the treatment
    • Your religion won’t allow you to get the treatment
    • The treatment the doctor prescribed for you doesn’t work
    • A mental illness makes it impossible for the medical treatment to be successful
  • You didn’t do what the SSA told you to do in terms of supplying information for medical records
  • The SSA can’t find you

When You Should Appeal

You have to file an appeal no later than 60 days from the denial date on the letter.

Where You Should Appeal

It’s best if you go online to file your appeal. The process of appealing online has two parts:

  • Complete the Appeal request internet form and
  • Complete the Appeal Disability Report – this will give the SSA more information about your disability.

Of course, you can always file an appeal by snail mail. You’ll have to fill out and include many forms. These are:

  • Form SSA-561-U2 – this is a request to reconsider the denial.
  • Form SSA- 3441- BK – this is a disability report that requests to appeal the denial of disability benefits.
  • Form SSA – 789 – U4 – this is to consider reconsidering terminating disability benefits.

The Appeals Process

There are many steps to the appeals process. That’s why it can take a long time. You have many levels where you can appeal at:

  • Request for reconsideration is the first level. You have 60 days from the date on your denial letter to file an appeal.
  • Fill out and submit the Form HA – 501 which the SSA will give you to appeal the second denial. An administrative law judge will hear your case and he or she has much more power than the SSA does so your chances of winning are much higher.
  • The appeals counsel – if you don’t like the decision by the administrative law judge you can always file a Form HA – 520. You ask for an appeals council to hear your case. You can present more evidence at this hearing.
  • Federal District Court. You can appeal the appeals council’s decision in a Federal District Court.

Do you have a case? Call Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155 to discuss your case.

Can You Sue If You Were Hurt Because A Building Was Constructed Badly?

Buildings are great but only if they were constructed properly. Any lawyer will tell you that a poorly constructed building can cause you extensive bodily injury. For example, you can break a bone in your arm if you were to slip and fall on a poorly constructed staircase. You can file a negligent construction lawsuit against whoever owns the building. Though rare, it’s not unheard of for a 30-floor office building to collapse within six months of opening. The parties who constructed the building would be facing hefty and ruinous lawsuits from those who were injured in the collapse and their families. Anyone who died in the collapse would have family members and loved ones will file lawsuits on their behalf. Parties who would be sued would include the building owner, the general contractor, the architects and engineers, subcontractors, and more. The owner may have to pay at least $50 million in damages. He or she would then sue every party who built the building. The tenants would have to recover damages from lost and damaged equipment, files, and other property that was in the building. They would sue the building owner. Owners of surrounding buildings would sue the building owner for any damage that the building collapsing caused their buildings. A building that collapses can trigger many lawsuits from diverse people and parties. There are two main types of bad construction that tend to trigger lawsuits:
  • Bad construction that damaged property
  • Bad construction that resulted in personal injuries
Negligent Construction Lawsuits For Property Damage Construction projects tend to take place only when many contracts are in place. These contracts name every party involved, their tasks in terms of construction, and their responsibilities in terms of the construction project. Therefore, contract law tends to define who’s responsible for different tasks and aspects of the building. Since professionals work on construction projects, they’re held to a certain ‘standard of care.’ These professionals can be held legally responsible when they don’t do their part in a certain construction project the right way. Parties will be asked and should consider the following questions when being held accountable for negligent construction:
  • Do the contracts indemnify the parties or assign liability to the responsible parties?
  • Who would a common man sue for the particular defect?
  • How much would it cost to fix the defect?
  • How much would the finished building be worth with the defect?
  • Did a botched plan or bad construction cause the defect?
  • Does the defect create any safety hazards?
Negligent Construction Lawsuits for Personal Injuries Construction work is hard and dangerous. Workers and people can and do die from doing dangerous tasks at high heights or by using heavy machinery. More people get hurt in the construction industry than in any other industry. People who sustain personal injuries on construction sites should ask themselves the following questions:
  • Can they get workers comp?
  • Who was in charge of safety at the construction site?
  • Were any industry standards ignored or violated?
  • Was the injury sudden or gradual?
  • Did the person who got the personal injury report it to the boss?
  • Did the employer provide adequate safety equipment?
  • Did the workers use the safety equipment?
  • Did the employer train the workers regarding using the safety equipment?
  • Have other workers sustained the same or similar injuries?
Remedies For Personal Injuries People who are involved in a personal injury accident are entitled to the following remedies:
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Inability to do things
Negligent construction is diverse and involves many different types of laws. If you are ever involved in a personal injury because of negligent construction you should consult with a personal injury lawyer at Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group. We are here for your assistance. Call us today at (772) 569-8155.

What to Do If You Were Hit By a Truck

18 wheelers are very dangerous. They can get into accidents easily and cause numerous injuries and deaths. If you are ever hurt or sustain property damage because of an accident with a truck, you need to know what you will need to do to win a personal injury case.

Well, one of the first things that you should do in this instance is to hire a good truck accident lawyer. He or she will tell you what you must do to hold the trucker responsible and get the settlement that you want, need, and deserve!

Florida is a No-Fault State

All drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance if they want to drive in Florida. This insurance will pay for up to $10,000 for property damage or bodily injuries that a person (not necessarily the person who carries the insurance) may sustain in an accident.

The insurance coverage has an 80% cap on all medical expenses and a 60% cap on all income lost. Truck drivers must carry extra insurance since they’re always on the road and drive larger and heavier vehicles. Therefore, they’re much more likely to get into accidents and cause more injuries and property damage when they do so.

There are two exceptions when you can bypass the no-fault system to bring a case against a truck driver. You either have to meet the $10,000 PIP limit, or you have to have what Florida personal injury law calls a serious injury.

How Does Florida Define a Serious Injury?

Your injury must fall into at least one of the categories that the 2019 Florida Insurance Statute defines as a serious injury to qualify for a serious injury in the state:

  • Substantial and permanent loss of a major body function
  • Permanent bodily injury that a doctor can say beyond a reasonable doubt was caused by the accident – this doesn’t include scarring or disfigurement
  • Significant and permanent scarring and/or disfigurement
  • Death

You should meet with a personal injury lawyer when trying to determine if your injuries meet these criteria since the language used to describe and define what is substantial is vague.

Your personal injury lawyer will consider the following when trying to prove that the truck driver was negligent.

Evidence of a breach of duty

All drivers must follow the rules of the road and exercise a certain duty of care about other drivers. You’ll have a much easier time winning your case if you can prove that the truck driver breached this duty of care. Some of the more common breaches of duty include:

  • Driving while drunk or buzzed
  • Using drugs when driving
  • Driving while exhausted
  • Driving a truck with faulty parts

Companies that don’t use due diligence when hiring truck drivers tend to hire drivers who breach their duty of care to other drivers.

Evidence of causation: You will need to prove that the breach of duty is what caused your accident. A good example would be if a trucker who was drunk hit a person in a parked car.

Evidence of damages: You have to prove that the truck driver caused your damages. These can include bodily injury, property damage, disability – temporary or permanent, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, among other aspects.

For more information about filing a claim and getting compensated, contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group. Call us today at (772) 569-8155.

Can Bicyclists Ever Be Held Responsible for A Traffic Accident?

Yes, since bicyclists follow the same rules and laws as other motorists. Bicyclists are usually not eager to see other motorists on the streets and highways, even in big cities and metros.

Bicyclists may be different, but…

Okay, so bicyclists may be different but they still follow the same motor laws and rules that people who drive cars do. Bicycles are smaller and more flexible. That said, they don’t have the strength as cars do. Maybe this is why they don’t do as much damage when they’re involved in motor accidents.

Bicyclists who violate any traffic rules and laws can be held to the same degree of liability as any other motorist. This means that they will have to pay for any property damage or bodily injuries that they may have caused.

Negligence and shared fault

The same concept of negligence that applies to those who drive cars applies to those who ride bikes! Bicyclists owe the same duty of care to other pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers as motorists do. Therefore, bicyclists who don’t ride with a duty of care are responsible for negligence if someone else is hurt or if another person’s property is damaged!

Thus, if a bicyclist causes a traffic accident by running a red light or making a left turn on red, he or she can be held 100% liable. Florida uses the concept of negligence to determine if the bicyclist shares any of the faults in accidents that involve bicycles. They also follow shared fault rules. These rules will tell the legal professionals in these states who was at fault for the accident and how personal injury damages should be assessed.

Contributory negligence

Contributory negligence states that any person who was even 1% at fault in a traffic accident can’t recover any damages for personal injury or property damage. This is a very harsh and extreme rule so few states follow it.

Comparative negligence

Most states follow some variation of comparative negligence. States that follow pure comparative negligence allow each party involved to recover the portion of damages that they were not at fault for. For example, a bicyclist who was 1% responsible can recover 99% of the damages. States using modified comparative negligence allow people to recover damages only if their share of the fault was less than 50%.

Preventing the accident

Bicyclists are riding smaller and lighter vehicles. Therefore, it’s important to follow all traffic rules and laws at all times. They should also be sober and wearing helmets when riding bikes.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today. Our legal team will evaluate your case and help you get the right legal representation so call on (772) 569-8155.

Can The VA Stop or Reduce Disability Benefits?

You may be having protected rate benefits if you’ve served in the armed forces. Rest assured that your benefit rates are protected even if you are required to appear for a medical reexamination. This means that it will be very difficult for the VA to reduce or even end your disability benefits.

When Your Rates are Protected

Your rates are protected in the following circumstances:

You’ve had the same rates for at least five years

The only way that the VA can reduce your rates if you’ve had them for at least five consecutive years is if your medical condition has improved substantially. It would need to look at all of the medical evidence concerning your disability. A thorough examination of the medical report wouldn’t suffice. The medical evidence would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your improvement was permanent.

You’ve had the same rates for at least 20 years

If you’ve had the same rates for at least 20 years, the only way that the VA can reduce these is if it can prove that you committed fraud to get the benefits at your current rates. This is rare since the VA has to meet very high standards to prove that this has occurred.

100% ratings

The VA would have to prove that your mental and physical conditions have substantially improved if it wanted to eliminate your benefits entirely. Your medical exam and supporting evidence would have to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. Slight improvements in your mental and physical conditions would not be enough.

You can help protect your rates if you can get a non-VA doctor to prove and document in a medical reexamination report that neither your physical nor your mental conditions have improved much, if at all.

You can still get your full benefits even if your physical and mental conditions have improved substantially. You just need to be unable to work either full or part-time. You’ll get your full benefits based on “individual employability’ in this instance.

Unprotected benefit rates

Note that the VA still can’t reduce your rates even if they’re not protected. There are some exceptions though:

  • Your disability has materially improved
  • The improvement allows you to function and work better
  • The reexamination report is thorough
  • The VA has reviewed your entire medical history.

The VA can temporarily reduce your benefits if you are ever incarcerated

The VA can end your disability benefits when…

The VA normally reduces benefits. It rarely stops them altogether. You can rest assured that your rates will be protected if you’ve been getting them for at least 10 years! The VA can end your benefits completely if it can prove that you either obtained them fraudulently or made a mistake when deciding to give you the benefits. A good example of this would be if the VA gave you benefits even after you had been dishonorably discharged. Termination of benefits is rare and can happen only after the VA gives you written notice of this.

If you have received such a notification, it helps to contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

What Are Your Legal Rights After You Are Hurt at Work?

Florida requires employers to keep their workers safe while working. Some employers may at times breach this requirement – workers are injured as a result. Workplace injuries can occur even when employers have taken every step necessary to keep their workplaces as safe as possible. These injuries often include (but are not limited to) broken bones, pre-existing conditions worsening, occupational illnesses, and psychological injuries. State lawmakers know this and this is why they devised a legal system that helps these workers seek redress.

How You Can Protect Your Rights After Sustaining A Workplace Injury

It’s easy to protect your rights after you are hurt on the job – formally report your injuries to your employer. You generally have a few days to a week after the injury occurs to formally report it.

Next, be sure to file a worker’s comp claim either in one of your state’s worker’s comp or industrial courts. Your employer, his or her worker’s comp insurance company, and the court will be formally notified about your injury when you do this. You’re automatically protected once you file a worker’s comp claim.

What Are Your Rights

The worker’s comp laws in Florida differ from those in other states. This is normal and expected. Your legal rights and the ways that you can exercise those rights after you have been injured while working. Most states have certain laws in common though:

  • You have the right to file a worker’s comp claim in a worker’s comp or industrial court.
  • You have the right to see a doctor – you have the right to seek medical treatment from that doctor
  • You have the right to return to your job if your doctor clears you for work
  • You are entitled to receive disability benefits if you are temporarily or permanently disabled and can’t perform your job to the extent that you could before your injuries.
  • You have the right to appeal any decision your employer, his or her insurance company, or the court may make with regards to your worker’s comp claim.
  • You have the right to have a lawyer represent you in court.

You also have the right to refuse certain requests or offers. One of these would be if your employer tells you to file a claim with your own insurance company to pay for your medical treatment. Note that you can say no if your employer tries to offer you some sort of an incentive to not file a worker’s comp claim because your employer is breaking the law by doing so.

Do I Have Rights With Regard To Other Parties?

You have rights against any third parties that may have caused your workplace injuries. For example, you can file a claim against these parties in any court – worker’s comp or other. You will be filing a third-party claim when and if you do this. These tend to be civil claims. You can file civil claims in state or federal courts.

You can seek personal damages if you are hurt at work and file a civil claim. You don’t have this right if you file a worker’s comp claim. This is because worker’s comp benefits are intended to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. You generally don’t have the right to seek any other kinds of damages. Third-party claims allow you to seek damages for pain in suffering though. To know more about worker’s compensation benefits in Florida, contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group at (772) 569-8155.

What are the 4 Elements of a Personal Injury Case?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by another individual’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for damages under Florida personal injury law.  In a case based on negligence, the plaintiff (injury victim) must establish that the defendant (at-fault party) was responsible for the accident and the injuries they suffered.  That is one of the reasons that you need to work with a lawyer that understands the legalities of the whole case. Although this sounds pretty straightforward, numerous factors can make recovering difficult for the accident victim.

What are the 4 Elements of a Personal Injury Case?

From a general standpoint, the defendant will be liable for negligence if they failed to establish reasonable care meaning the reasonable care taken by a prudent individual under the same conditions or circumstances.  Negligence may include:

  • acting or behaving in a way that a reasonable individual would not
  • the failure to act as a reasonable individual would

There are 4 elements that the personal injury lawyer and plaintiff must establish or prove in an accident with injuries case including:

  • the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • the defendant breached that duty
  • the plaintiff was injured and suffered financial loss
  • the defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries

Keep in mind that the defendant has the right to refute any part of the plaintiff’s claim and should they be successful, the claim will be invalid.  Hence the reason why it is so important that you contact a personal injury lawyer when you’ve been injured so they can ensure meeting all 4 of the above elements in your case.

Different Circumstances – Different Duties of Care

In a personal injury case based on negligence, the most critical question is whether or not the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.  In Florida personal injury law, the duty of care is defined as the at-fault party’s or defendant’s responsibility to the injury victim or plaintiff.  For example, the duty of care for a private individual and their actions towards another is different from the duty of care that a doctor or healthcare provider has towards a patient.

In any event, establishing the duty of care is necessary before you can proceed with your claim.  Let us help you. If you’ve suffered injury or lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligent actions or behavior, don’t risk losing the compensation you’re entitled to.  For more information or to schedule a FREE consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.

What Happens When Injury Victims Die Before Finalizing Their Lawsuit?

Sadly, some injury victims pass away from catastrophic injuries before a decision has been reached in their personal injury lawsuit.  So what happens then? Can the surviving family members take over and finish the case? According to Florida law, some rules apply to these circumstances.  If the injury victim passes away during the legal process, the case becomes a wrongful death lawsuit.  This will enable the surviving family members to continue and pursue compensation for damages.

What Damages are Recoverable?

The surviving family members can pursue compensatory or monetary damages and punitive damages if the actions or behavior of the defendant that caused the accident were outrageously careless or egregious.

Compensatory damages include:

  • burial and funeral costs
  • emotional distress and mental anguish resulting from the loss of a loved one
  • loss of companionship
  • loss of future earning potential 
  • loss of income
  • medical bills and expenses pertaining to the victim’s death 
  • property damage 

Basically, any costs associated with the victim’s accident and injuries are a potential source of compensation.

How Do Family Members Pursue Survival Actions?

In some cases, the victim’s passing is not attributed to their injuries.  Florida allows the victim’s family members to pursue a survival action that will continue the injury claim.  This simply means that the original personal injury claim will proceed as a survival action that is meant to compensate the family members for the damages the victim incurred before their passing.

As with a wrongful death suit, the representative of the estate of the deceased can file a survival action to recover the damages that they would’ve been awarded had they survived.  These damages might include lost wages, medical bills, and expenses, and pain and suffering.

Who is Eligible to Sue the Party at Fault?

In a survival action or wrongful death lawsuit, the only one eligible to pursue legal action against the at-fault party is the personal representative of the estate of the deceased.  However, they must prove that negligence caused the person’s death and that the party at fault for the accident failed to establish a duty of care for the deceased.  If the victim failed to name a personal representative (often referred to as an administrator or an executor), the court will appoint one.

Keep in mind that personal injury claims that involve the death of a loved one can be complex, hence the need for a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer.  We work on contingency basis so you don’t have to worry about upfront payments. For additional information regarding this legal issue, contact the Graves Thomas Injury Law Group today at (772) 569-8155.