Vero Beach Car Accidents Involving Out-of-Town, Visiting Drivers

A car accident injury  (or worse, a fatal car accident) can be a life-changing experience. It’s not just the victim who is affected, but their dependents and loved ones. Suppose you have an accident in Vero Beach involving an out-of-state driver. In that case, you’ll need expert help and support from an experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the complexities of Florida’s laws.

Accidents with Out-of-State Drivers

Sometimes a Vero Beach car accident involves a driver from another state, such as a tourist or business traveler. Some victims fear that if the other driver has an out of state driver’s license, they may struggle to obtain compensation.  Florida state laws mean that accidents occurring on the Sunshine State’s roads fall under Florida’s jurisdiction. It doesn’t matter whether the driver is from another state.

There’s also a “Long Arm” statute, meaning that out-of-state drivers involved in Florida road traffic accidents can be recalled to Florida for court appearances. By choosing to drive on roads in the state of Florida, the driver consents to abide by the state’s laws and is subject to the “Long Arm” statute. This means that someone who gets into a traffic accident in Florida is obliged to appear in court if they are sued over their involvement in a road traffic accident.

Comparative Fault

Different states have different approaches when it comes to determining fault and deicing on compensation. Florida is what is termed a “pure comparative fault” state. In a pure comparative fault state, compensation is determined based on each party’s degree of fault. This means that if more than one person is found to have contributed to causing the accident, all those responsible may be held liable. For example: if Driver A is distracted by their phone and is struck by Driver B, who has ignored a traffic signal, both drivers may be held liable for the resulting accident.

Accidents Occurring Outside of Florida

If you’re a Florida resident who has been injured in a car accident while driving out of state, you will not fall under Florida’s jurisdiction. You will need to file any lawsuit you bring in the place that has jurisdiction in that instance. This might be the state, the county, or the city, depending on the circumstances. If you have an accident out of state, you’ll be bound by the state’s laws where the accident happened. You’ll need to find a lawyer with experience and knowledge of the laws relating to car accident injury in that state.

What to Do After a Road Traffic Accident

Regardless of where the accident took place, there are some steps you should always take following a car accident.

  • Don’t leave the scene. If it is safe to do so, remain with your vehicle until law enforcement arrives.
  • Notify law enforcement. This can be the highway trooper or local law enforcement.
  • Offer any assistance that you reasonably can to those involved.
  • Exchange information with the other party or parties involved. This includes insurance details, driver’s license information, etc.
  • Gather evidence. Take photographs, collect the names of any witnesses, etc.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. You may feel all right after the accident, but some injuries don’t always manifest right away.
  • Do not admit fault. Even if you feel that you’re responsible for the accident, this is for the courts to determine. Admitting fault can prejudice a future court case and might mean that you don’t get the compensation you deserve.

If you do decide to move forward with a lawsuit, or if another driver sues you, you will need a skilled and experienced car accident attorney. Contact the Graves Thomas Injury Law Group today.

Dog Bite Lawsuits

Dog bite injuries can be very serious, even fatal. They can leave physical effects, including dog bite scars, and can also cause lasting psychological harm. Dog bite statistics in Florida are surprisingly high, with an average of two deaths per year caused by dog attacks. Even with a relatively minor injury, a dog bite infection is always a possibility. This can result in prolonged treatment periods and high medical costs.

If you or someone in your household is affected by a dog bite injury, you may be eligible for compensation. Obtaining a settlement for a dog bite incident can help you to move forward. To achieve the kind of outcome you deserve, you need a skilled and experienced dog bite attorney.

Dog Bite Injury Statistics

Children are at the highest risk of suffering a dog bite injury, with those under 14 representing the largest number of casualties. Boys are at a greater risk of dog bites than girls.

The most significant risk factor seems to be a lack of proper restraint for dogs, with unrestrained dogs accounting for approximately one-third of attacks. This includes dogs outside the owner’s property and dogs off their leash in a public space.

The majority of dog bites in Florida involve a bitten child by a familiar dog, either a family pet or one owned by a neighbor or friend.

Dog Bite Lawsuits: Receiving Compensation

Florida law allows you to seek compensation if you are affected by a dog bite injury. Unlike other states, where owners are only held liable if the dog has bitten someone before, Florida’s law applies strict liability in the case of dog bites. This means that if you’re attacked by a dog in a public space or on private property lawfully, the dog’s owner can be held liable.

You can also file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner on the grounds of negligence. To do this, you will have to prove that the dog’s owner had a “duty of care” that applied to the victim. This is an option in cases where strict liability doesn’t apply.

If the dog’s owner deliberately orchestrated or otherwise caused the attack, for example, by setting a dog on the victim, an intentional tort may be pursued. Intentional torts cover incidents when the dog bite was intentionally provoked by the owner or someone else in control of the dog. They are similar to cases involving assault and battery.

Reduced Liability

In most situations, you can hold the owner liable for an attack by their dog. There are some situations where liability may be reduced, however. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Incidents where the victim was hurting the dog or provoked the attack in some way.
  • Dog bites occurring when the victim was on the property illegally, such as attacks on trespassers or burglars.
  • Attacks where the dog was protecting the owner, or another nearby person. There must be a reasonably perceived threat to the person the dog was protecting.

Every case is unique, and many factors can affect liability. Even if liability is reduced, you may still be eligible for compensation if the owner is found to be partly or mostly responsible. For example, if you as the victim were found to be 20 percent at fault, the owner would still be 80 percent at fault.

As you can see, dog bite lawsuits can be complicated and challenging to navigate. If you’re considering a claim for compensation relating to a dog bite incident, your first step should be to seek expert legal advice from a skilled and experienced personal injury attorneyContact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group today for an initial consultation.

What to Do If Denied Social Security Disability

If you find yourself unable to work due to disability, applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) can be the lifeline you need. SSID is awarded based on an assessment of your need, factoring in things like your income, assets, and level of disability. This means that some claims are rejected.

The refusal of your claim is not the final word, however. It is possible to appeal a rejection, and many appeals are successful. Your claim can be reconsidered and may be successful if you keep trying. Because social security disability benefits can be so important for maintaining your quality of life, it’s well worth fighting for them. Read on to find out what steps you can take to challenge the decision and claim the benefits you need.

Ask for a reconsideration

Your first step might be to file for reconsideration. When you receive your decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will usually get an explanation of why you were refused SSDI. If you think this reason is wrong for any reason, you are entitled to file for reconsideration. The SSA must then review your case in its entirety as if it was a new application. If you were correct, your claim may be reinstated. A disability attorney can help you with this.

Request a hearing with an administrative law judge

Even if the reconsideration doesn’t go your way, you still have plenty of options. You can appeal again, requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). These hearings take place locally. The ALJ will review your application and question you about your situation. The judge will also speak to any medical experts and attending witnesses involved in your case. You’re entitled to representation during this process. During hearings, you should consider having a disability attorney present to support you.

Submit fresh medical evidence

If your medical condition has changed during the SSDI application process or you were appealing, you must inform the SSA. You can submit this new evidence separately or in conjunction with a request for reconsideration.

Providing information on medical changes is a requirement and can also help your application. New medical information and evidence can bolster your case, giving the evaluator additional cause to award you SSDI.

Obtain testimonials from your doctor(s)

Doctors’ evaluations are weighted very heavily by the SSA. Should your initial social security disability application be denied, additional information can help when you appeal. If you haven’t already done so, ask your doctor to fill in an RFC (residual functional capacity) form. If your condition has worsened, you can ask your doctor to submit a revised RFC form. Your doctor can also submit additional information to support your case, detailing your condition, and explaining why you should receive benefits.

Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney

Whether you’re applying for the first time or appealing an unfavorable decision, enlisting an experienced social security disability attorney is always a wise move. Disability attorneys know exactly what an SSA evaluator is looking for in a claim and can ensure that your case is adjudicated fairly. Disability attorneys are very well versed in the appeals process and can make this daunting endeavor much less painful. Disability attorneys are required to advise you for free until you win your appeal and begin to receive benefits. This means that the attorney is highly motivated to do everything they can to ensure that your appeal is successful.

If you’re thinking about appealing your SSDI decision, it’s a good idea to seek professional legal advice as soon as possible. Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group’s experienced, compassionate disability attorneys can help you receive the SSI disability benefits you deserve.

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

If you’ve suffered an accidental injury, a personal injury lawsuit may be vital to getting your life back on track. Recovering from an injury may be a costly business and the compensation you get from a lawsuit might be the lifeline you need. While some personal injury lawsuits can be resolved fairly speedily, others may take months or even years. The timeframe will depend on a range of factors, many of which have to do with your treatment and recovery.

The initial phase: accident and conservative treatment

The timeline for your lawsuit begins on the day you were injured, called the accident date. Once your injury has been stabilized, the focus of your medical treatment shifts to addressing the damage. The initial approach will usually be via conservative treatment, such as physiotherapy. This phase might last anything from four weeks to 15 months.

The aggressive treatment phase

Some people’s personal injury journey will end with the conservative treatment phase. If conservative treatment fails, however, you will move on to the aggressive treatment phase. This includes more invasive treatment options, like surgery. The aggressive treatment phase can last from two to six months.

MMI (Maximum medical improvement)

MMI is the point after the aggressive phase when the patient has made all the recovery  that doctors expect them to make. This may be from six to 12 months following aggressive treatment.


After the MMI stage, the parties may move forward and enter into pre-lawsuit settlement negotiations. These negotiations are aimed at finding some mutually acceptable settlement that the plaintiff and the insurance adjuster can agree on. It can take around two months to complete these negotiations.

The lawsuit phase

Sometimes the adjuster and the plaintiff can’t reach an agreement. If this happens. the parties enter the lawsuit phase. This can take 12 months and upwards. You will have to wait for a trial date to be set, which can take a long time. The lawsuit phase can easily take three years or more. Following a favorable verdict, you may still have to wait for the final outcome as the defendant can appeal, adding one to two years to the overall timeline.

Other factors

There are other possible factors that can influence the time your personal injury lawsuit takes. These include the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and your own level of liability. The amount of damages you’re seeking will be a big factor. If you’re only seeking a fairly small sum, the case is more likely to be settled quickly than if you are seeking, say, tens of thousands of dollars.

The degree to which you have been injured and the length of your recovery will also factor into the length of your personal injury lawsuit. Not only will you probably want to seek a higher sum for a very serious injury, but the length of time it takes to recover will mean that it takes longer to get a settlement.

There’s another factor which is unrelated to your specific case but which can influence the time it takes: the court itself. A small but busy court with fewer resources will take longer to process your case than a larger court with more legal experts and staff available. This is unfortunate, as it can have quite a dramatic impact on the length of your personal injury lawsuit.

If you find yourself as the plaintiff in a personal injury case, you will want to think about the timeframe involved when deciding whether you should settle out of court or go on and pursue your case. Ultimately, this decision will depend on your individual situation. Talking to an experienced legal professional can help you determine what’s right for you.

Different Between Medical Malpractice and Medical Procedure Risk

Medical malpractice is a complicated issue. When a doctor errs in their diagnosis or treatment, and a patient is injured as a result, a malpractice case may be possible. Determining whether any medical injury rises to the level of malpractice will depend on a number of factors. Even the most mundane procedure carries some element of risk, and not all medical injuries mean that malpractice has occurred.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as occurring when a doctor or other health care professional fails to provide the appropriate treatment to a patient, fails to take appropriate action when they should have done, or gives the patient treatment that is not up to a reasonable standard. When an injury results from this, the patient or the patient’s family may have a legal case against the healthcare provider for malpractice. Medical malpractice law is an area of law that allows for those affected to obtain compensation.

What is medical procedure risk?

Simply because a patient suffers a negative effect due to some medical treatment, it doesn’t mean that a healthcare provider is guilty of malpractice. Unfortunately, a provider may do everything properly and still find that their patient is negatively affected. This is because of medical procedure risk.

Every procedure, no matter how common and minor, carries some degree of risk. For example, even dressing a superficial wound with an adhesive bandage carries a risk; the patient might have an allergic reaction to the materials in the dressing and develop a skin irritation. Even the commonest medications carry the risk that the patient will suffer some unwanted side-effects, while trivial surgical procedures inevitably carry a small risk that complications will ensue. The more powerful or invasive the procedure is, the more risk may be involved.

It is not a healthcare provider’s responsibility to avoid risk completely. That would be impossible, as no procedure or medication is entirely risk-free. Instead, a provider must weigh up the potential benefits of the treatment versus the possible risks. Allowing a condition to progress untreated would often be much riskier than providing treatment, even treatments that are known to have side effects.

A healthcare provider also has a responsibility to appraise the patient of the relative risks and benefits of a procedure so that they can make an informed choice about their own treatment. If the patient later suffers unwanted effects from that treatment, malpractice has not occurred as long as the treatment was appropriate. A patient is not entitled to sue simply because the outcome of the treatment was not satisfactory.

Do I have a malpractice case?

If you or someone close to you has experienced harm as a result of medical treatment, you may be able to sue for malpractice if the harm resulted from substandard care. A healthcare provider is legally responsible for the harm that a patient experiences if the standard of care was lower than that which a patient could reasonably expect.

Substandard care might include:

  • Failing to diagnose a condition or providing an incorrect diagnosis,
  • Failing to order necessary tests,
  • Failing to act appropriately on test results,
  • Discharging a patient before they were well enough, or
  • Unnecessary surgery or surgery that was incorrect.

A malpractice case is possible if:

  • The provider failed to deliver a proper standard of medical care,
  • The patient suffered an injury as a direct result, and
  • The injury results in significant damage to the patient.

Damage can include things like disability, ongoing pain, a loss of income, suffering or hardship. These conditions would need to be tied to the action or inaction of the healthcare provider. If you think you might be a victim of malpractice, you should consider speaking with a Medical Malpractice legal expert.

Negligent Security: When You Should Sue a Property Owner

It’s the duty of a landlord or other property owner to provide a secure environment. Guests, visitors, residents, attendees and patrons should be able to use the space safely and without undue risk. If a property owner fails to provide proper security, they may be liable for injuries that occur as a result. If you’ve suffered harm due to negligent security on the part of a property owner, you may be able to sue the person or entity responsible. For example: if you were assaulted by an intruder who was able to gain access to the site due to a lack of proper security, then the property owner could be held liable as well as the assailant.

What is Negligent Security?

Negligent security is the failure to provide reasonable security for a residential or commercial property. A negligent security case may be possible if:

  • There’s a condition on a property that’s potentially dangerous
  • This condition is known to the property owner
  • The property owner did not take reasonable steps to remedy the danger, and
  • Someone is injured as a direct result of the dangerous condition.

Here are some examples of negligent security:

  • Missing or broken locks on doors or gates, facilitating entry by assailants
  • Insufficient lighting in hallways, alleys or parking lots that leads to accident or assault
  • A lack of security staff which allows an assault to occur
  • An aggressive or threatening person on a property who is not removed, and who later goes on to commit assault or property damage against a patron.

The crucial element of a negligent security case is negligence on the part of the property owner. It must be demonstrated that the condition was known to the owner, that they could have reasonably foreseen that injury was a possible consequence, and that they could have taken steps to remedy the situation. In the example of an accident occurring in a darkened hallway, it should be shown that the property owner knew that the location was too dark and should have improved the lighting. If this is proven, the responsible party can be made to pay compensation.

Why sue over negligent security?

Naturally, your first concern if you’re injured in an assault or an accident is to bring the responsible party to justice. In addition, you may have incurred significant financial costs due to your injuries. Medical bills, time off work, perhaps mobility aids, home care or even remodeling your home to accommodate a disability — all these things can add up to a severe financial blow. A negligent security case can help to pay for these things, as well as compensating you for pain, suffering and emotional trauma. Financial compensation can be a lifeline for those who are facing mounting debts through no fault of their own.

Besides monetary compensation, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that a careless property owner has been held accountable. By making the responsible party answer for their negligence, you are discouraging negligent conduct and perhaps preventing similar incidents in the future.  By taking action, you may be protecting someone else from being harmed. Faced with the prospect of possible future lawsuits, the responsible party may be less willing to ignore hazards and more conscientious about keeping their property secure.

Even if you don’t have witnesses and there’s no camera footage available, it’s worth seeking legal advice to find out whether you have a claim. Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group can help you. Experienced negligent injury attorneys are prepared to deliver the settlement you deserve so that you can begin rebuilding your life after an injury.

How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident?

Being involved in a car accident is bad enough, but for many people, their problems are just beginning. Insurance payments, medical expenses, the shock and distress caused by the accident — all these things can mount up. If you’ve been affected by a car accident, you may be considering legal action to recover costs or compensate you for any harm you may have suffered. A car accident settlement might be the solution, reimbursing you for expenses relating to the accident and compensating you for any injuries or psychological impact.

Car accident insurance settlements

When you’re in a car accident, you will usually receive an insurance settlement. Your company may pay for repairs or a replacement, even if the crash was your fault. If another driver was involved and they bear some responsibility for the wreck, their insurance company may pay you. This settlement should compensate you for any material losses, as well as pain and suffering.

The amounts you receive may be less than you hope or expect. While you can usually get reimbursed for monetary expenses like repairs, it can be harder to assess and receive compensation for the psychological impact of the accident. A car accident lawsuit can help you to get compensation for things that insurance usually doesn’t remedy.

How much can I expect to receive from a car accident lawsuit?

Before beginning the car accident lawsuit process, it’s useful to know what kind of insurance settlement you might expect. You may not need to litigate if the insurance payout is satisfactory.

When it comes to determining a settlement, much will depend on the type of insurance held by you and the other driver. For example, if you’re in an accident with a driver who didn’t have insurance, or whose insurance was insufficient, this can hurt your settlement unless your policy includes cover for uninsured or under-insured drivers. You may need to sue the individual to make up the difference.

The severity of the injuries and the cost of any medical bills will factor heavily into the amount you receive. You must be clear about any ongoing treatment and likely future expenses. The judge who looks at your case will take future treatment stemming from the accident into consideration. Lost wages due to recovery are another consideration.

Liability for the accident will be a significant factor. For example, if the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may receive a larger settlement. If you are found to have contributed to the accident occurring, that will negatively impact your claim.

The amount of damage to your vehicle and other property will be factored into your settlement. If you need to repair or replace your car, you may be able to receive money for this. You’ll also be able to claim other expenses relating to the crash. This can include expenses like alternative transport while your car is repaired. In the case of severe disability, it can consist of the cost of modifications to your home. If you have to change jobs or can’t work anymore, you should be compensated for this.

Non-economic factors may also impact on your settlement. If you suffer long-term trauma, are disfigured, have to stop pursuing your usual interests, or are otherwise rendered unable to enjoy your life as you previously did, this may be considered too.

In the final analysis, whether or not to litigate will be a personal choice. A typical settlement may be around three to four times the amount of any medical bills. The amount will vary based on several factors, including those mentioned above. If you do decide to pursue litigation, be aware that this can be very time-consuming. Some cases may take years to resolve. If your chief concern is getting back to normal as quickly as you can, it may be worth settling for the insurance payment rather than engaging in litigation. In cases where the payment is significantly lower than you were hoping for, and the insurance company is refusing to negotiate, litigation may be your best option.

Leaving No Stone Unturned; Understanding the Often-Elusive Insurance Benefit of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Leaving No Stone Unturned; Understanding

the Often-Elusive Insurance Benefit of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

By: Matthew M. Thomas of Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group – October, 2019.

Life altering injuries are a potential reality for all of us. They can happen instantaneously and without warning. Tens of thousands of people die each year in motor vehicle accidents across the country. This includes Florida, who sees its fair share. Beyond those resulting in a death, greater numbers of drivers suffer from non-fatal injuries on a daily basis. Hopefully, this never happens to us or anyone we know. Hopefully, we make it back home safely to our families, each and every day. Unfortunately, this is not our reality.

When someone is permanently injured in a car accident, their own life and oftentimes the lives of those closest to them, are changed drastically. Issues – such as financial pressures from mounting medical bills or an inability to work can prove to be overwhelming. Ideally, the individuals who negligently cause such accidents and any resulting injuries, will have sufficient bodily injury liability coverage under their insurance policy to fully compensate the injured victims. 

But what if they do not? Well, in the sunshine state, chances are they will not. According to research, Florida ranks first in the percentage of uninsured drivers on public roadways, with approximately 26% of the state’s drivers doing so without any bodily injury liability insurance whatsoever. That, is where uninsured motorist coverage (synonymous with underinsured motorist coverage) comes in. In collecting this insurance coverage, it is critical to understand it and explore all its potential applications. This article is a cursory attempt at doing so. 

Uninsured motorist insurance coverage, often referred to “UM” coverage is a creature of statute and contract. Florida’s UM statute, Section 627.727, Florida Statutes, was initially passed in 1961, and while it has seen its share of changes over the years, its intent remains. The statute was enacted to protect individuals who are legally entitled to recover damages caused by owners and operators of uninsured or underinsured vehicles. To illustrate, suppose the driver of vehicle 1 is at fault for an automobile accident that resulted in the driver of vehicle 2 sustaining bodily injuries. If Driver 1 does not have sufficient bodily injury liability coverage to fully compensate Driver 2 for their injuries and damages, then Driver 2’s UM coverage would provide insurance coverage to compensate Driver 2 for his or her injuries. Chiefly, to qualify as an uninsured motorist under Florida Statute §627.727, the value of Driver 2’s injuries must exceed the bodily injury liability limits afforded to Driver 1. Think of it like a tiered insurance system. Once the damages of Driver 2 exceed the bodily injury liability limits available under Driver 1’s insurance policy, Driver 2’s UM coverage picks up the tab.

The statute’s purpose is to protect persons who are injured on public roadways due to other motorists who cannot make the injured party whole again with sufficient bodily injury liability insurance coverage. Section 627.727 was neither “designed” to protect the motorists that injure and damage others, nor to compensate or benefit insurance companies. Indeed, the protections  afforded by the statute are not susceptible to the attempts of insurers to limit or negate that protection. The statute’s “design” includes separating out causes of action for UM coverage under theories sounding in breach of contract made against insurers; as opposed to causes of action that are sounded in general negligence and made directly against at-fault drivers themselves.  Once a cause of action is filed, courts give effect to the legislative intent in application of the statute to the specific facts presented in any given case. This results in an ample supply of court cases and opinions outlining various applications of UM coverage in different factual scenarios, which is beyond the scope of this article. 

Because Florida’s legislature understood the importance of UM coverage to the state’s general welfare, Florida law requires all automobile policies with bodily injury liability coverage to have equal UM limits. An exception – or escape – from this requirement exists when an insured has made a knowing reduction or rejection of UM coverage. Most commonly, insurers achieve this by having an insured sign a valid UM rejection form that is compliant with the requirements of Section 627.727. Only one signature of a named insured is required to bind the policy to the selection of UM coverage. A valid UM form that is signed by an insured, creates a “conclusive presumption” of a knowing rejection or reduction of UM coverage which then applies to the policy for all insureds. Yet, this conclusive presumption is not always so conclusive. This conclusive presumption can be overcome by evidence of fraud, trickery, or forgery of the insured’s signature on the UM form.

Without a valid UM form signed by an insured, there is no conclusive presumption and an insurer must undertake the task of proving that an insured made a knowing and informed selection of UM coverage through other methods. This includes offering proof that an insured “orally” rejected UM coverage. Perhaps unfairly, insureds must their demands for UM coverage in writing to claim entitlement. Obviously, the factual disputes that can arise in the absence of a signed and valid UM form create uncertainty, with results in more costs, more time and more litigation.  

Although UM compliance may appear simple in concept, fact disputes still commonly arise over the validity and statutory compliance of UM forms. For instance, whether an UM form satisfies the formatting requirements for “electronically delivered documents” or is considered “readable language” is dependent on the specific UM form in question. Those wishing to invalidate an UM form should use strict application of the requirements found within Section 627.727. Even the slightest deviation from the language provided in the statute renders any given UM form potentially invalid.

Beyond the issues of an UM selection/rejection form’s contents, are issues surrounding the insurer’s compliance with Section 627.727’s notice requirements. If an insurer is unable to prove proper notice was accomplished per the statute’s requirements, then the insurer has a renewed responsibility to offer UM coverage equal to the bodily injury liability limits under the policy. That is – when a signed and valid UM form rejecting or reducing coverage exists, and the insurer has sent the required notices to the insured, the insured is bound to the original election of the rejection or reduction of UM coverage. Alternatively, when an insurer fails to send an insured the required annual notice, insurers are required to provide full UM coverage (equal to the bodily injury liability limits under the policy) regardless of the insured’s initial election of UM coverage.

Needless to say, a smooth navigation of all the potential UM coverage issues can prove difficult – if not downright impossible. All those involved in actual disputes of UM coverage are bound to encounter some of them. Importantly, the ultimate consequences associated with litigating these issues is potentially devastating for insureds and insurers alike. On one hand, an insurer may be required to extend UM coverage in the amounts of 6 or 7 figures, to equal bodily injury liability limits, even though no premiums were ever paid by an insured. On the other hand, injury victims may be potentially left out in the proverbial “cold” with absolutely zero sources of recovery.

Given the uncertainties found in the realm of UM coverage, it is imperative to enter into these disputes with a full understanding of the potential pitfalls and an organized plan of attack. This topic’s vast body of law allows the insurance industry, who are repeat players in the litigation of insurance disputes, to craft their arguments in favor of themselves and against UM coverage. It also allows technicalities to become mountains made of molehills. Being able to practice in this realm effectively, means being proficient in its terms and their application.  If sufficiently qualified to do so, an individual can use the statutes governing UM coverage and the court opinions interpreting them as pivotal tools in obtaining the full amount of insurance coverage available. As the great military general Sun Tzu once wrote, “the enlightened ruler lays his plans well ahead.”

How do I pick a personal injury attorney?

You’re in your car and no fault of your own, you’re in an accident.  Your car is damaged. You don’t feel exactly right. Maybe the airbag has gone off and you’re disoriented.  It’s a nightmare scenario people find themselves in every day. The fear of medical bills, getting your car fixed and what this is all going to cost runs through your mind.  You have seen many billboards, heard radio advertisements, television commercials, etc. from lawyers all proclaiming to have experience and willing to help. How do you know how which one to choose?

As a board certified civil trial lawyer, the Florida Bar allows me to designate myself as an “expert” or a “specialist.”  Why is that significant? Less than 5% of personal injury lawyers are board certified. In order to achieve board certification, you must have practiced a certain amount of time, tried a certain number of cases and pass a written examination.   There is no requirement from the bar regarding the number of cases you try to call yourself a “trial lawyer.” A “trial lawyer” may not have tried a case at all. Some lawyers use trials that they may have been tried by another member of their firm or maybe they had limited responsibility and still advertise they have “won” a trial or achieved a “verdict” in order to bolster their credibility.  Trying cases competently takes a lot of experience and legal expertise. Further, not all lawyers try cases and that is an important issue to discuss with your prospective attorney.

Similarly, lawyers advertise themselves as specializing in certain areas such as “motorcycle accidents” or “trucking accidents.”  The bar does not regulate such a distinction. In other words, a lawyer may have never tried or handled such an accident and still designate themselves misleading consumers to believe they have experience with these types of cases.  At Graves Thomas, we have successfully litigated motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, premises liability accidents, automobile accidents, negligent security cases, injuries to children, brain injuries, spinal injuries and other complicated legal matters.  In handling these types of cases, experience matters and we are more than happy to show our prospective clients that we have experience in all these types of cases, including trials.

Taking a case into litigation is quite costly for a law firm. There are associated costs in filing the lawsuit, conducting discovery, depositions and experts, if needed. It is important to understand what the firm’s resources are in taking a case to trial.  At Graves Thomas, we have small firm customer service but big firm resources. Simply put, there is not a case too big for us to handle. The insurance companies cannot outspend us. We have the resources necessary to win your case and get you the money you deserve.

Oftentimes, I see lawyers that have designations or accolades from various organizations.  Many of the organizations will designate you in some way as a “top lawyer” or something similar without having any background.  I am constantly bombarded with emails asking me to pay a fee for some crafty or catchy designation. They are meaningless but are used by some lawyers to make it appear that they have achieved something that they actually have not. Oftentimes, these organizations will so designate a lawyer for the payment of a fee.  Traditionally, lawyers have used Martindale as a reliable source. Martindale judges lawyers by asking their peers and Judges they practice before how they rate the lawyer. I have achieved Martindale’s highest rating of “AV” and have so held it for over 15 years. I display these plaques proudly in my office knowing that my peers and the Judges I practice before respect my legal expertise.

In today’s digital advertising, lawyers advertise from distant areas and appear as though they may be located in your town.  Ask them where there primary office is located. Many lawyers advertise multiple offices, but no one is there to meet you or tend to your individual needs. Further, it is difficult to aggressively litigate your case when your attorney is not local.  An attorney having local ties has a distinct advantage in familiarity with the Judge and the Judge’s procedures. Also, juries are sometimes suspicious of “out of town” lawyers.

Finally, ask your lawyer who will be handling your case.  Will the firm be referring your case to another firm? What is the experience of the lawyer actually handling my case? These questions are important because aggressive and competent representation is necessary for an optimal result. Insurance companies know who is experienced and who is not.  They know who tries cases and who does not. The lack of experience may detrimentally affect your settlement. Also, cases should be moved through the system as quickly as possible and not left to sit around. Aggressive representation includes providing a timely demand and litigating the case if necessary.  At Graves Thomas, our reputation is well known. We work hard for our clients and are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the best result possible for our clients.

A guiding principle at our firm is that we treat our clients like family.  No matter how big or small your case may be, we will treat you just like we would our own sister, brother, Mom or Dad.
If you want aggressive experienced representation in your injury case, give us a call.

Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group Talks Trucking Accidents

Accidents involving commercial vehicles can be catastrophic and handled by an attorney that has experience in handling these claims.  It is important to secure as much evidence as quickly as possible. Most trucking companies have adjusters and sometimes accident reconstruction experts report to the scene so they can immediately begin their defense.  It is important that the victim have representation so that this information can be secured for the victims as well.

Evidence such as photographs of property damage, downloading control models and other evidence may not be available later.  It can be very difficult to obtain this evidence later if it is not immediately secured. There are also many federal rules and laws that must be complied with by drivers. An attorney representing a victim of a trucking accident needs aggressive and zealous representation that is familiar with these laws.

Our firm has handles many trucking accident cases with catastrophic injuries resulting in millions of dollars in awards. Trucking cases can be complex and costly. At Graves Thomas we have the experienced aggressive trial lawyers and large firm financial resources to litigate any case all the way through trial.