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Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett | Legal Blog

Jun  09,  2016
By Jennifer A. Burns

Florida drivers know that buckling up is the law. Yet fatal crashes continue to increase, as violators fail to put on their seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle. While statistics show that drivers and passengers have been buckling up more consistently during daytime hours, evening and night time fatal crashes between the hours of 6 pm and 5:59 am have continued to increase.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) has instituted a national seatbelt enforcement mobilization period beginning May 23rd and ending June 5th, 2016. The mobilization was created to enforce seat belt laws 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Local law enforcement agencies will be joining forces and patrolling “Coast to Coast” on major interstates including I-10, I-40, I-70, and I-80. The objective of the patrol is to remind citizens that law enforcement’s priority is safety.

The Click It or Ticket campaign highlights key issues in traffic safety. Research conducted by the NHTSA showed, while 88.5 percent of passenger vehicle occupants buckled up in 2015, almost 50 percent of occupants of fatal crashes nationwide are not restrained. Even more tragic, in some states the rate is as high as 70 percent unrestrained in fatal crashes. These startling statistics are the key reason the enforcement mobilization period was formed.

“Buckling up is one of the easiest ways to put your life out of danger’s way,” remarked attorney Jennifer Burns, “No one regrets putting on their seatbelt.” Jennifer Burns is one of Tampa Bay’s foremost personal injury attorneys, handling car accident claims with tenacity and compassion.

Law enforcement agencies will issue citations to all seatbelt law violators pulled over during the Click it or Ticket time period. Local police are maintaining a zero-tolerance policy for those without seatbelts. For more information on the NHTSA’s Click It or Ticket campaign please visit http://www.nhtsa.gov/ciot.

Tampa Bay’s leading personal injury attorneys at Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett, P.A. are available 24/7 to address questions and concerns you may have regarding legal issues. The firm handles all types of legal matters, including personal injury, family law, DUI defense, Social Security, criminal defense, immigration, and workers' compensation. 

Tags: carlson meissner, jennifer burns, tampa accident attorneys, florida seatbelt laws,
Posted in Announcements|Personal Injury|Community|Drivers License
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Jun  02,  2016
By Casey Carlson
Our Workers’ Compensation  Division would like to announce that the workers' compensation claims professionals working in the state of Florida need your help. New to our state this year is an outstanding organization called Kids’ Chance. Our mission is to provide educational scholarships to children who have a parent seriously injured or killed on the job. We have just recently opened our application process, and are seeking qualified applicants who need help with college or trade school tuition. We will award funds this year, before school starts in the fall. Do you know a student interested in scholarship opportunities, whose parent has suffered a serious workers’ compensation injury? Encourage the student to visit and learn more about available scholarship opportunities. It is gratifying to see deserving kids have the chance to succeed. Please have them to go to www.kidschancefl.org for more information, and to apply. We thank you in advance for your help in finding deserving and qualified students!

Tags: carlson, meissner, hart, hayslett, casey carlson, workers' compensation,
Posted in Announcements|Community|Workers Compensation
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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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