Lancaster & Eure members participated in a relaxing, yet invigorating night of Yoga at the Ringling Museum. After enjoying a peaceful mind and body experience, the museum and grounds of the Ringling Museum were open to explore during Art after 5. The Ringling Museum is truly a treasure in our local Sarasota/Bradenton Communities!
Members of Lancaster & Eure were pleased to again be a part of the Glitz at the Ritz-Carlton extravaganza honoring Carolyn Michael and Howard Millman as this year’s 2018 Schoenbaum Humanitarian Award Honorees.
L&E recognizes the vital role the Salvation Army provides in our local community and is a proud supporter of its mission.
Position: Intake Specialist
Dina joined Lancaster & Eure in September, 2006 and has been a vital member of the firm for over 11 years. Her flexibility in covering multiple positions and assisting with job assignments as needed, as well as handling urgent situations, is a tremendous asset to the firm.
Dina is a hard worker who recognizes the responsibility of her position and is a team player who supports various positions within the firm.
Lancaster & Eure is truly fortunate to have Dina in our team of professionals and we are grateful for the tremendous efforts she brings to her position!
Our Employee Spotlight focuses on Dina to learn more about her achievements and what motivates her at the firm and in life:
What do you like most about your job?
The interaction with clients, whether in person or over the phone.
What have been your major contributions to the firm this year in your job?
Helping each and every individual that comes into my office
What aspect of your position gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Most of our clients never had to hire an attorney. I see a big difference between when a potential client walks in our front door and after s/he leaves our office after they have signed up with our firm knowing that someone is on their side and will fight for their rights.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I did not get my driver’s license until I turned 21, and now am the best driver ever!
How do you define success?
Having a good balance between work and family.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled and why?
Washington, DC because of all the American history. USA!
What is your favorite thing to do?
Watch the sunset.
As discussed in our prior post, Bill Introduced to Help First Responders with PTSD, Florida's Workers' Compensation law does not cover psychiatric injuries without an accompanying physical injury. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015). Mr. Gerry Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he was assigned to carry bodies out of Pulse nightclub but he was denied workers' compensation and retirement benefits due to the bar on psychiatric only injuries.
It seems that the State has taken a step in the right direction following the unanimous approval Mr. Realin's disability pension. Currently, Florida law only allows payment of early pension for physical injuries. However, the board unanimously agreed that Mr. Realin should receive the disability pension based on his diagnosis of PTSD and their findings that the PTSD was a permanent and total disability that was attributed to his response to the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for Florida's legislature to amend the Workers' Compensation law to include psychiatric only injuries so that individuals such as Mr. Realin aren't forced to suffer with no support.
This past week the attorneys of L&E attended the annual Florida Workers’ Advocates (FWA) conference in Orlando. FWA is an organization committed to protecting and defending the rights of injured workers throughout Florida, and it has truly become an invaluable platform for many civil justice attorneys throughout our state. We are proud of the work put in by FWA and its many members who spend a significant amount of time in Tallahassee and away from their loved ones.
Unsurprisingly, our members continue to step up to the fight as all members of FWA battle not only for their clients, but for the rights of all injured workers. FWA is one of the few organizations who stands between special interest groups and lawmakers to put the rights of Florida's injured workers first. FWA members are there to provide insight and remind the powers at be that it is ultimately Floridians, namely injured workers, who suffer at the hands of business friendly agendas. Thankfully, the citizens in Florida are blessed with an organization like FWA who fights for the rights of injured workers and reminds lawmakers of the impact of their "talking points" and ultimately decisions on the real people in Florida.
Our attorneys are extremely proud to be members of such a powerful and dedicated organization. Surrounded by the best minds in workers’ compensation, our firm is able to expand and strengthen their expertise under the law in order to continue fighting for the rights of their clients.
For More information on Florida's Workers' Advocates please click on the following link: Florida Workers Advocates.
“The World will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch & do nothing.”-Albert Einstein
Twenty-six years ago, in May of 1991, Debbie joined Lancaster & Eure and she has been an integral part of our firm ever since. In 1990 Debbie graduated from Manatee Junior College with an Associate of Science degree and went on to complete the Certified Legal Assistant’s exam in 1991. In addition, she regularly attends legal seminars and other conferences specializing in Workers’ Compensation to maintain her CLA status. She currently resides in Venice, FL.
At Lancaster & Eure, we are lucky to have someone as focused on the clients and passionate about assisting our team as Debbie and we thank her for her service!
Today we focus our Employee Spotlight questions on Debbie to learn more about her accomplishments and what motivates her to excel:
What do you like most about your job?
Lancaster & Eure has always been very supportive to their employees in the office and with their personal lives. They encourage continued education and provide their employees the opportunity to grow. I feel fortunate to have found a position with L&E.
What would you say have been your major contributions to the firm this year in your job?
I have been able to assist our new employees in learning how to do different aspects of their positions.
What aspect of your position at Lancaster & Eure gives you the most personal satisfaction?
When I am assisting clients with their settlements and they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and they get a feeling of relief that they will no longer have to deal with the WC insurance companies in their lives.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
I love to fish. I caught a 300 pound blue marlin while fishing off the coast of Hawaii. Also, I was a rowing coxswain and I competed in many regattas where our crew was very successful. I am currently a US Rowing referee. I work at many regattas each year.
How do you define success?
I define success as being reliable. Reliable to my employer, husband, and family.
What is the best place you’ve traveled and why?
For our wedding anniversary my husband and I took a cruise to French Polynesia. We traveled to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahaha, and Rhiatea. It is so beautiful there. The diving was phenomenal and the people were very friendly.
What is your favorite thing to do?
I love being with my husband and I love to cook.
When you hear the term "black box" it typically evokes thoughts of plane crashes authorities working to determine what went wrong to cause the crash. The "black box" is an event data recorder (EDR) that automatically captures information during the flight including recording cockpit conversations and flight data.
An interesting topic has come to the forefront recently and continues to garner attention throughout the state of FL. Recently, a little know feature called the Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been added to later model vehicles. The EDR is the "black box" of your vehicle automatically recording crash-related data and vehicle performance statistics. The EDR is typically utilized by repair shops to capture information used to ensure optimal performance or detect any issues. However, the EDR also captures crash-related data such as speed and breaking, factors that can be very important to determine fault in an accident.
The addition of the EDR has given rise to a debate as to whether information recorded from this device, and gathered by police without a warrant, should be allowed as evidence in court to prove the other party’s negligence. Does collecting data from the EDR without a warrant violate a person’s 4th amendment right to privacy? According to a recent ruling by the Court in State v. Worsham, No. 4D14-2733 at 1 (Fla. 4th DCA Mar. 29, 2017), the answer, at least for now, is yes.
However, there is a possibility that the 4th DCA's holding does not remain as the law of the land for long. The 4th DCA is the first appellate court to consider this issue and
For more information please see the article written by Simone Marstiller, Esq. who previously served an appellate judge with the First Disctrict Court of Appeal for Florida: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/little-black-box-simone-marstiller.
Self-driving, autonomous cars are a hot topic these days, and quite possibly the wave of the near future. With society headed in that direction, who would you turn to if you were injured by a self-driving vehicle?
This article explores the issue of government regulations concerning self-driving cars and if the companies who own these vehicles should ultimately be held liable.
Click here to read the full article: http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20170328/self-driving-car-crash-comes-amid-debate-about-regulations
We are proud to share the Winter Edition of the News & 440 Report, featuring one of our very own attorneys as guest editor: David Wieland, along with his esteemed family members. 50 Years, 3 Generations. Click here, http://www.flworkerscomp.org/…/2-ne…/72-news-440-winter-2017, to read the articles.
Currently, psychiatric only injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not covered under Florida's Workers' Compensation law. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015).
Following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL first responder Gerry Realin was diagnosed with PTSD after having to carry almost 50 bodies out of the club. However Mr. Realin was denied workers' compensation benefits because he did not sustain a physical injury that required medical treatment. While this might seem like an arbitrary distinction to most, the effect is a total denial of benefits and forcing Mr. Realin to go entirely without compensation while trying to recover from the trauma he sustained.
Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) recently introduced a bill that seeks to extend protections for psychiatric only injuries to first responders like Mr. Realin. While the introduction of the bill is by no means a victory for injured workers, it is a step in the right direction to provide protection to those who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to protect all others.
Following the unprecedented rise in popularity of the ride-sharing service Uber, lawsuits were filed across the country challenging Uber's designation of their drivers as independent contractors. Up until recently, Uber's sister company UberEats, a delivery service for local restaurants available in cities across the nation, was spared from these type of labor challenges. However, a lawsuit was recently filed in Tampa challenging the designation of the delivery drivers as independent contractors. The lawsuit contends that the drivers are employees of UberEats and are being deprived of benefits ranging from minimum wage protections to workers' compensation insurance. Currently the attorneys representing the plaintiff are seeking class action status indicating that the class could include over 1,000 drivers.
Unfortunately, misclassifying workers as independent contractors is a problem that has existed for years in Florida and can have a large impact on an injured worker's ability to obtain workers' compensation benefits. If you or your loved ones have experienced issues with employment classifications, contact our office to speak with one of our attorneys regarding your rights. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.
As the debates begin to ramp up in the legislature over the effectiveness of red-light cameras, a new report reveals increased accidents at intersections with red-light cameras.
After reviewing 148 intersections in 28 cities across Florida, it was found that accidents increased by 10% compared to accidents before the red-light cameras were installed. The report does reveal some decreases in certain accidents, such as those involving non-motorists were down about 20%. However, the debate still continues over whether red-light cameras are helping to keep Floridians safe or are they merely acting as cash creators for the state.
The Florida Senate's Banking and Insurance Committee opened debates on Tuesday over the proposed 14.5% rate hike proposed by the group in charge of proposing insurance rates in Florida, NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc.).
Luckily, Florida's lawmakers have not been influenced by the go-to soundbite from special interest groups claiming that the proposed increase can be blamed solely on attorney's fees. Senators Greg Steube and Gary Farmer, Jr. shifted the focus onto NCCI and the system in place for determining insurance rates in Florida. Rather than having a competitive marketplace between insurance carriers, which is the norm in a majority of states, the power lies solely within NCCI to propose increases in insurance rates on behalf of all insurance carriers. (And as we have seen, determine those increases behind closed doors).
Senators Steube and Farmer indicated their support for a system where the insurance carriers compete for business by proposing their own rates, rather than the current system where all carriers charge the "common rates" proposed by NCCI and accepted by the Office of Insurance Regulation.
As Henry Ford once said, "Competition is the keen cutting edge of business, always shaving away at costs."
While Thanksgiving is a holiday rightfully focused on giving thanks for all of the positives in our lives, it is also a time to experience the traditions and tastes unique to each and every family. In that sense, some of our members of the Lancaster & Eure family wanted to share some dishes that they will be enjoying with their families this Thanksgiving. Make sure to comment either here or on our Facebook page with which dish you enjoyed the most!
Dina shared the following Oyster Dressing recipe passed down by her mother:
Corn and Bacon Casserole
Lancaster & Eure Celebrates
1 Year of Going Green!
A little over a year ago, Lancaster & Eure proudly implemented a recycling initiative for our offices. The average office worker uses a staggering 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year. We at Lancaster & Eure wanted to do our part in making our world a greener and cleaner place. By recycling, we have cut down on the amount of waste that eventually ends up in local landfills.
Each staff member has a personal recycling bin at their desk to make sure all that can be recycled, will. Every Wednesday all of the paper in the personal bins are combined and taken to the street for pick-up.
Additionally, we have a shredding service come to our office every month to shred the large amount of confidential documents that we, as a law firm deal, with on a daily basis. After these documents are properly shredded, we make sure that all of that paper is also recycled, further reducing our contributions to the ever growing local landfills.
The impact of such a simple and minute change in office culture is astounding. We at Lancaster & Eure wish to continue our endeavor to keep our world healthy for future generations and hope that you will do the same.
As we all take time to reflect on the tragic events that occurred on that fateful Tuesday morning 15 years ago, we must make sure to remember those continue to suffer to this day. The ones who answered the call of duty following those tragic crashes, whether it be first responders or those working in the rubble for the weeks and months following the attacks, continue to be (deservedly) seen as heroes in the eyes of the American public. Unfortunately for some, the programs designed to assist those in their time of need don’t share the same view of the American public. Rather, those who sacrificed their health and safety to help the victims or families of victims affected by the tragedy are now the ones in need of help.
During the time of remembrance on the 15th anniversary of September 11th this weekend, make sure to take time to offer support to those who truly need it. Support, thanks, and praise should be offered to all of those who were brave enough to answer the call in our Country’s time of need, especially to those who continue to suffer today and need it now more than ever.
Most car accidents by themselves are traumatic enough to affect even the strongest individuals. But when accidents are caused by hitting an animal, the traumatic effect is increased substantially. The majority of injuries that occur in accidents caused by animals are caused not by hitting the animal themselves but when the driver tries to avoid the collision.
Recently, our local area has experienced some severe weather, which we have the pleasure of continuing to experience with (now) Hurricane Hermine. As most Floridians know, weather changes can affect everything from your outfit for that day to your driving habits on the road. As one local Bradenton woman recently discovered, those changes can affect the routines of our local wildlife as well. While it is very unlikely you are going to have the pleasure of seeing an alligator swim past you in rush hour traffic, it pays to be aware of your rights should you ever have an accident caused by any animal.
Depending on where the accident occurred and what type of animal was involved you may be covered under your own car insurance and another individual may be liable for the accident and the damages resulting from it. If you are involved with an animal related car accident your first step should always be to contact emergency services. It is always a good idea to have a police report completed because you may be required to provide that type of evidence of the accident to collect any benefits you are due.
If you have been involved in any type of car accident, contact our office today and speak to one of our seasoned attorneys about what benefits you may be entitled to. Please call our office at (941) 365-7575 or visit our Contact Us page.
As school has officially started in Florida our roads will once again become bogged down with back to school traffic. While most drivers are aware of the rules surrounding school buses, it always pays to have a helpful reminder of what to do when sharing the road with school buses:
Typically, when police officers discuss the need to drive cautiously on Florida’s interstates it is due to increased traffic driving at high speeds. But when it comes to Sarasota’s law enforcement community, the need to proceed with caution begins before even entering the highway.
For the past few months there has been a large increase in the number of accidents on several major ramps to I-75 in Sarasota. While on-ramps are typically not considered an accident prone location, the mix of increased hazards have led to on-ramps now becoming an area of caution. The causes of these accidents range all the way from distracted driving, including the large increase due to the ever popular Pokemon Go game that has caused some strange injuries to those not paying attention, to aggressive driving with those drivers who are fueled by anger, frustration, and knowing their time is more valuable than anyone else on the road.
The increase in accidents have led local law enforcement agencies to encourage more defensive driving practices and increase awareness of the need to drive cautiously, even before you enter the interstate. While many see these crashes as simple fender benders that are doubtful to cause injuries, the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s study on responses to car-to-car low speed crash tests have shown there is no minimum threshold of speed for injuries to occur to those in the vehicle.
We will all benefit if we follow the directions of our local law enforcement agencies to drive defensively and with caution when driving on any road, especially the local interstates. If you or your loved ones have been involved in any type of motor vehicle collision, please contact our office today and speak to one of our attorneys about what benefits you may be entitled to. Please call our office at (941) 365-7575 or visit our Contact Us page.
As most in the Sarasota area are aware, celebrating the birth of our nation is best accompanied by the rumble and thunder of powerboats cutting through the Gulf off Lido Key. Luckily, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival is back in town this week with events continuing through the 4th of July. This year, instead of a parade, there is a block party downtown, which is just one of the many events scheduled throughout the weekend at this family-friendly festival.
The Grand Prix has been produced by Suncoast Charities for Children for
the past 30 years and continues to raise the necessary funds to support those in need in our local community. Suncoast Charities for Children provides support to five non-profit organizations in the Sarasota County area. Community Haven for Adults and Children with Disabilities, Inc., The Florida Center for Early Childhood, Loveland Village, Children First, Special Olympics Florida (Sarasota County), and Special Athlete Boosters serve over eight thousand clients with special needs. These organizations also provide support to the families of children and adults with disabilities.
This year marks the start of the Share the Beach Campaign where the focus is to protect our local marine life and their habitats. For more information on how you can help “Share the Beach,” please visit: http://sarasotapowerboatgrandprix.org/race/environmental-conservation/ . This link to the festival website gives tips for boaters, bringing personal property on the beach, and tips for how to protect sea turtles, manatees, and other marine life impacted by the festival, along with contact information for proper authorities in case of emergencies. This year, let’s do our part to keep our beaches and downtown clean by disposing of all trash in marked receptacles, and cleaning up after ourselves! And, most importantly, have a fun and relaxing 4th of July.
For a complete schedule of Grand Prix events please visit: http://sarasotapowerboatgrandprix.org/schedule/
Distracted driving is a major contributor to easily avoidable crashes. From eating in the car, to texting while driving, there are countless ways for a driver to become distracted. It might be surprising to find out, cellphone use is not the most engaged-in distracting behavior, according to a study sponsored by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Interacting with a passenger is the distracting behavior that drivers engage with most often.
According to an Overview of the NHTSA's Driver Distraction Program, distraction can be categorized into the following three types: visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distraction is comprised of tasks which require the driver to look away from the roadway to visually obtain information. Manual distraction consists of tasks which require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel in order to manipulate a device. Cognitive distraction involves when the driver is thinking about something other than driving.
Any of these types of distractions can cause a near-crash, or even a collision on the roadways. Technology has been developed by many vehicle manufacturers to help minimize distraction of drivers; however, if your vehicle is not equipped with the latest technology, you might want to know how best to avoid distracting behaviors.
Staying focused while in your vehicle...
Staying focused on the roadways, and the conditions on the roadway before you, is the best way to avoid distraction-related crashes. Be aware and stay safe! Always remember that when you get behind the wheel, you have much more than your own life in your hands.
Fatal Car Crashes and Family Members Left Behind
According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, there are more than 200,000 car crashes every year in Florida. Florida has over sixteen million drivers which means millions of tickets are written each year. However, every traffic safety measure taken cannot change the fact that fatal car crashes happen. These car crashes result in around 3,000 deaths each year. Two crashes resulting in fatalities occurred in Sarasota this week. The first occurred on University Parkway, on Monday, and the second happened on Fruitville on Tuesday. As a result of these two crashes, four people are dead.
When a loved one passes unexpectedly, it can take some time for the initial shock to subside. When dealing with grief, often level-headedness and attention to mundane details takes a back seat to the emotions and feelings with which family members grapple. Every person deals with grief differently, and for some, holding the responsible party accountable can offer much relief. While it is impossible to bring the lost loved one back, it is possible to punish the negligence which caused his or her death. Justice can be served through the civil courts by seeking damages from the party responsible for the fatal crash.
There are necessary steps to take, after a loved one is taken from your family in a fatal car crash, to preserve your rights. First, finding out how long you have before you can no longer bring a case against the responsible party (or, the statute of limitations), is important so you know how much time you have to make a decision about pursuing a wrongful death case. Second, it becomes much more important to make timely, informed decisions during this difficult period.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an especially difficult matter. If your loved one has been the victim of a fatal crash, let the seasoned attorneys at Lancaster & Eure fight on your behalf to recover the damages your family deserves. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Auto Insurance Benefits
After being involved in a motor vehicle accident (car, motorcycle, truck, etc.), people are often confused about who should pay the medical bills. In Florida, the law requires every owner/driver of a motor vehicle (motorcycles are excluded) to carry $10,000.00 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. PIP is sometimes also called, “no-fault” coverage. PIP covers you, even if you were at fault. Following an accident, PIP benefits are paid by your own insurance company, regardless of who was involved in the accident. Unfortunately, PIP does not pay one hundred percent (100%) of your medical bills and lost wages. PIP only pays eighty percent (80%) of your medical bills and sixty percent (60%) of your lost wages, up to $10,000.
Often, Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage can reimburse you, up to eighty percent (80%), for the mileage of your travel to and from your appointments with various medical providers. PIP also reimburses for prescriptions, as part of their coverage, but only if you have an itemized statement detailing the name of the medication, the prescribing physician, and the amount you paid. Often, your insurance carrier will pay these medical bills (and the other expenses discussed in this post), regardless of liability. Most people are unaware they only have fourteen (14) days to seek medical treatment after an accident, for injuries sustained in that accident, before they lose their $10,000.00 PIP coverage.
Having an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to help protect your rights is important. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, in order to better understand and protect your rights, contact the seasoned attorneys at Lancaster and Eure, who will fight aggressively to make sure you receive the benefits you deserve. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or, feel free to contact us online.
Florida's Crash Count on the Rise
Trooper Steve Gaskins (handles Florida Highway Patrol Public Affairs for Tampa Bay) tweeted the numbers for the crash count in Florida, as of February 29, 2016. Click here to find out the count.
Why is the Wait Time for an Answer from Social Security So Long?
Did you know the average waiting time to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration regarding your application for disability benefits is 506.5 days? According to this article from the Peninsula Clarion, over one million people in the United States are currently in some part of this rigorous application process. Over half of all first-time applicants are denied, and the appeals process can take years to wade through. The article details the struggles of applicants who are in the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
Unfortunately, there are few options available for assistance to applicants attempting to win disability benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, a person qualifies for Social Security Disability if: her or she has a physical or mental condition which prevents him or her from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity,” AND, the condition is expected to last at least twelve months or result in death, AND, he or she is under the age of sixty-five, AND he or she has accumulated twenty social security credits in the last ten years prior to the onset of disability (unless applying for the needs-based disability program Supplemental Security Income [SSI]). After meeting all these criteria, there is still a fifty percent chance of being denied, and forced to go through the appeals process which includes a hearing before an administrative law judge at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
Navigating a system in which almost half of all applicants are denied can be confusing and overwhelming. If you are unable to work due to medical reasons, let the seasoned attorneys at Lancaster & Eure fight on your behalf to get the benefits you deserve. Each attorney gives every client unique and personal attention. Call us for a free consultation (941) 365-7575, or feel free to contact us online.