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Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett | Legal Blog

May  31,  2016
By Paul Meissner

May is motorcycle awareness month and the perfect time to review precautionary driving measures. As the weather warms up, more and more motorcycle enthusiasts will fill the roads across the U.S.

Motorcycle awareness month was created to stop the decline of helmet usage, and decrease the number of motorcycle crashes and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association focuses on equipping motorists with the tools necessary to anticipate and respond to motorcyclists on the road. By gaining a better understanding of a motorcyclist’s visibility and weaving techniques, motorists will have a better plan of action when sharing the road.

Tips for motorists approved by the NHTSA include:

·         Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.

·         If you see a motorcycle with a signal on, be careful: motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Ensure the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.

·         Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.

·         Always allow increased follow distance when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by following these steps:

·         Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.

·         Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.

·         Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.

·         Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.

·         Ride in the middle of the lane for maximum visibility to drivers.

Tags: carlson, meissner, hart, hayslett, motorcycle safety, helmets
Posted in Personal Injury|News and Media
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May  24,  2016
By Andrew D. Spence

The Florida Supreme Court recently made a decision concerning a problem that has plagued the injured workers’ ability to obtain all benefits owed under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, under Florida Statutes 440.01-440.60. This decision, as reported by attorney Andrew Spence, affects nearly all injured workers’ in the State of Florida, encouraging pursuit of benefits even when the value of the benefit at issue is minuscule. To do so, Florida’s Supreme Court struck down the irrebuttable fee schedule in Florida Statute 440.34. 

In 2009, the legislature amended the laws governing attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation cases, eliminating a single word, “reasonable,” when determining the attorney’s fee when successfully obtaining benefits for injured workers. For example, post 2009, if the injured worker was owed $100.00 for lost wages due to his or her work place injury, the Employee’s attorney would be entitled to an attorney’s fee of $20.00 if the benefit was successfully obtained, even if the issue litigated all the way through a trial, no matter the number of hours invested in the fight for the $100.00. In this example, if the Employee’s attorney invested 50 hours to prepare for and attend trial, the statutory rate of pay for the Employee’s attorney if successful would be $0.40 per hour. To add insult to injury, in a loser pay system, the Employee would owe the insurance company and/or Employer the cost of said trial if the Employee did not prevail at trial. So, you can see the obvious problem in weighing the risk versus the reward for successfully obtaining the $100.00. Accordingly, this problematic issue was examined by the Florida Supreme Court in Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Company, et al., case no. SC 13-2082 (2016).

In Castellanos, the Employee’s attorney successfully obtained benefits for his client, defeating numerous defenses raised by the insurance company and Employer, and the attorney’s fee amounted to $1.53 per hour for the 107.2 hours performed to successfully obtain the benefits at issue. The Court found that the conclusive, irrebuttable statutory presumption regarding attorney’s fees in the 2009 statute was unconstitutional. In doing so, the Court reasoned that without the right to an attorney with a reasonable fee, the workers’ compensation law did not provide the intended self-executing delivery of benefits to injured workers. Additionally, Insurance companies were intrinsically encouraged to raise multiple defenses, causing injured workers difficulty hiring an attorney to pursue benefits on their behalf. 

Now, due to the decision in Castellanos, attorneys who successfully obtain benefits for an injured worker are again entitled to a reasonable attorney fee, encouraging attorneys to pursuit of benefits no matter what the value of the benefit is. Attorneys helping injured workers are no longer bound by the law that, at times, prevented pursuit of low value disputes. Further, insurance companies have more of an incentive to provide benefits when proper because the failure to do so results in a penalty of owing reasonable attorney’s fees, which at times far outweighs the benefits sought. We hope this change in the law will reduce the wrongful denial of benefit and insurance companies will be more likely provide benefits under the workers’ compensation laws.



Tags: carlson, meissner, hart, hayslett, castellanos, workers' compensation
Posted in Workers Compensation
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Apr  21,  2016
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Steadfast advocate for accident victims and clients facing criminal charges, Adam R. Bugg advances his career with premier legal team 


One of Tampa Bay’s foremost law firms, Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. expanded their firm’s wealth of knowledge by adding attorney Adam R. Bugg to the legal team. Bugg will focus on serving clients in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and surrounding counties in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense. His addition to the team offers an even stronger advantage to the firm's “team approach” strategy. 

Adam R. Bugg graduated Cum Laude, ranking in the top 9% of his class, from Stetson University College of Law. During his time at Stetson he received a coveted award, the Paul Barnard Award for Clinic Excellence. Before attending law school, Adam received a bachelor’s degree in business management from Samford University and was very involved on-campus. 

Following his undergraduate degree and immediately after graduation, Adam began serving the Largo community as a Police Officer. As a first responder, Adam was assigned the crisis intervention team, and additionally, mentored new recruits and managed other officers. Adam continued his career as an active duty police officer for five years before beginning law school. 

Adam succeeded in his scholastic pursuits while attending law school, consistently at the top of his class. He worked with both the Office of the Public Offender, Sixth Judicial Circuit and the Office of the State Attorney, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit as a certified legal intern and handled jury trials. Following graduation from Stetson’s College of Law, Adam passed the Florida Bar and worked for Phelps Dunbar LLP as an associate handling defense liability claims. Adam is looking forward to continuing his career with Carlson Meissner, a firm that built a notable reputation advocating for injured accident victims. 

Adam was raised in Pinellas County, and now resides in Tampa with his wife and two children. He spends his extra time coaching little league. “Attorney Bugg has consistently proven his commitment to strong and fair legal representation. His addition is paramount to our firms' continuing success and reputation for excellence,” explained partner J. Kevin Hayslett. “Adam’s dedication to serving others in the community is commendable.”

 

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Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Criminal Defense|News and Media
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Mar  11,  2016
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Distracted Drivers Send U.S. Traffic Fatality Rates Up 14% in 2015

A recent study performed by the American Safety Council counted over 18,000 fatal car crashes from January to June of 2015. Experts say the majority of crashes were caused by distracted driving. The numbers show a 14% increase in crashes caused by distracted driving since the year 2014. Additional factors, including low gas prices have contributed to the increase in the number of drivers on the road. This startling statistic highlights the need for practiced injury attorneys to protect victim’s rights.

Research by the U.S Department of Transportation shows that at any given moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or operating electronic devices while driving. This number has held steady since 2010. WTSP 10 Tampa News spoke with local Countryside High School students and school resource officer, Officer Long. Officer Long, as well as students agreed that distractions quickly multiply in the car of a student driver. Young drivers are easily preoccupied by friends, social media, or “showing off” while driving noted two Countryside students.

With young people ages 15-24 accounting for 14% of the U.S. population, there are a large number of inexperienced and often distracted drivers populating the roads. For more than four decades, Tampa Bay’s foremost injury law firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A.has fervently advocated for victims of automobile, motorcycle, and truck accidents. Dedicated accident attorneys help families put the pieces back together following injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful conduct.

Leading Clearwater injury attorney Edward D. Carlson states, “Our skilled group of personal injury attorneys work tirelessly as a team to fight on behalf of accident victims. Winning maximum compensation for damages, pain and suffering for every injured accident victim is always our priority. Our experience allows us to handle each case with tenacity and compassion, always focusing on obtaining the best possible results.”

 

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Posted in Personal Injury|Community
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Mar  01,  2016
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What to do after a car accident 

There have been a number of accidents with critical injuries or death reported in Tampa Bay so far this year. In most cases, the victims of the car, motorcycle or truck accident are faced with vehicle damage, mounting medical bills and missed workdays because of another driver’s negligence. 

“It is disheartening to see victims of auto accidents overwhelmed by the physical and financial damage of the accident to fight for justice. Compensation from an auto accident may not be reached unless an experienced attorney is involved." Edward D. Carlson, co-founder of Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. said. “By providing a comfortable, trustworthy client-lawyer relationship, we deal with the stress of fighting for justice, so our clients can focus on recovery.” 

What to do if you've been in a car accident


After an accident, victims should be wise about getting contact information from the other driver and insurance company information. Gather contact information from any witnesses. Victims should document the scene by taking photographs and recount any physical damage to themselves or their property. If you or a passenger in your vehicle has received injuries, go to the emergency room or physician's office as soon as possible. Be mindful of injuries that may present several days or even weeks after the accident and be sure to get them checked by a physician as well. Following the accident, contact a knowledgeable accident attorney for legal guidance seeking monetary damages related to the crash. 

Since 1971, the Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart and Hayslett P.A. represent victims injured in motor vehicle accidents due to negligence — speeding, reckless driving, driving while under the influence, running a red light, talking or texting while driving, tailgating, changing lanes in an unsafe manner and failure to obey other traffic rules. If you have been involved in an accident as a result of someone else's negligence, contact our Clearwater office at 877-728-9653 


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