So long, Roz?

The Florida Supreme Court has directed the Florida Bar to adopt rules that would prohibit certain lawyer referral services, and could put an end to companies like 1-800-ASK-GARY and 1-800-411-PAIN.

Under article V, section 15 of the Florida Constitution, the Florida Supreme Court has "exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the admission of persons to the practice of law and the discipline of persons admitted."  As a part of the process of regulating attorney conduct, the Florida Bar proposes rules that address attorney conduct to the court for approval.

In its September 24, 2015 ruling, the court rejected the recommended rule from the Florida Bar, and essentially held that the rule did not go far enough to protect the citizens of Florida from the harms that can come from referrals to attorneys that originate from non-lawyer-owned referral services, such as 1-800-ASK-GARY and 1-800-411-PAIN.  The court noted that some of these non-lawyer referral services may disproportionately target racial minorities.

The court discussed the potential pitfalls that could come from the referrals, and cited to a specific instance where an individual from Kentucky was flown down to Florida to receive treatment that her providers in Kentucky believed actually made her condition worse. The court noted that there could be significant detriment to injured parties who are not familiar with their legal rights and with the medical benefits available to them.   

The court also discussed the Florida Bar's Special Committee on Lawyer Referral Services' findings and reviewed a newspaper article from a South Florida periodical.  As a result of this information, the court recognized that the public interest would best be served by having stricter prohibitions on non-lawyer-owned referral services.  The court then ordered the Florida Bar to propose a new rule on this issue by May 24, 2016.

The full court opinion can be found here.  Thorpe & Thorpe, P.A. encourages everybody to review their potential lawyer's skills and experience and make their own decision.  

Wrong Way Drivers a Danger to Tampa Commuters

Wrong way driving seems to be a phenomenon that is unfortunately too common in the Tampa Bay area.  In 2014, there were at least four incidents of drivers caught driving the wrong way on some of the area's thoroughfares, including I-275.  In one extremely sad case, in September of 2014, three people were killed in a wrong way driving-related accident.  But that was not the last of the incidents.

On April 12, 2015, two separate individuals were stopped by the Florida Highway Patrol for driving the wrong way on I-275.  One of the drivers was arrested for DUI.  The second driver caused two other drivers to get into accidents trying to avoid his oncoming car. 

While law enforcement officers certainly help avoid the potentially fatal consequences of wrong way driving by catching the offenders before anyone is injured, not all offenders are caught.  In fact, one of our own attorneys witnessed a wrong way driver driving down the incorrect side of US-41 just this past weekend.  Fortunately, no one was injured, but the driver seemed to get away without being caught by law enforcement.

These stories of wrong way drivers and their victims should serve as reminders to always pay attention on the roads, to be prepared to take safe, evasive action if you encounter a wrong way driver, and to never drive while intoxicated.  Remember, if you or someone you know is involved in a wrong way driving-related crash, the attorneys at Thorpe & Thorpe, P.A. are here to help.

Jury Awards $60 Million in Drunk Driving Accident Case

In 2003, a Collier county teenager and her boyfriend left in their car after being served drinks at a sports bar.  On the ride home, the boyfriend nodded off, causing the car accident that would leave the teenage girl paralyzed and now a resident in an assisted living facility.  Although the accident was more than a decade ago, the case was finally resolved by a jury verdict against the sports bar and other defendants for $60 million.  While that full amount is not likely to be collected, it does serve as a stern reminder to bar owners: do not serve alcohol to minors and do not serve alcohol to individuals who are already intoxicated.  Read the full story here.

Thorpe & Thorpe, P.A. reminds you to never drink and drive.

Reminder: Treatment Required within 14 Days of Accident to Protect PIP Coverage

If you have been in a car accident, it is important to remember that Florida law requires you to seek medical treatment from a qualified provider, such as a medical doctor, chiropractor, or dentist, within 14 days of the accident in order to protect your right to receive PIP benefits.  Not all injuries will be obvious immediately after the accident, and some injuries may become worse with the passage of time.  Therefore, it is critical that if you believe you have suffered an injury due to an accident, you promptly seek medical treatment, even if it is only with your primary care physician.  You can read more about the law here

Your right to coverage through a bodily injury or underinsured/uninsured motorist policy are not affected by the 14-day rule.  So even if you did not seek treatment within the 14-day window, such as when your injuries do not show up until weeks or months after the accident, you may still be able to receive automobile insurance payments for your injuries.  Do not be embarrassed to seek medical attention and legal assistance for your injuries.  If your injuries are significant enough to impact your life, contact an attorney who can help you navigate your way through the law as it applies to your unique situation.