Tag Archives: Zarzaur Law Zarzaur Law Firm

Proving Permanent Injury In A Florida Car Accident Case

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, and you called a personal injury lawyer like Joe Zarzaur to handle your case. It sounds simple, but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as those described.

Florida No Fault Law

Florida is a no-fault automobile insurance state. This means that drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP) to pay for their medical expenses and other accident-related damages, regardless of who caused the collision.

In Florida, Treatment And Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

What Is A Permanent Injury?

Florida law defines the term permanent injury. Under Florida’s no-fault law, which is §627.737, subsection two, a permanent injury is: a) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; b) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; c) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or d) death.

Under this law, if a claimant is able to show that the other vehicle was at fault and caused the plaintiff’s injuries, they will be able to recover any out-of-pocket medical bills incurred (the money owing after the PIP pays; usually PIP pays at 80 percent), any future medical bills, any lost wages, the loss of ability to earn money in the future, as well as any other out-of-pocket expenses legally shown.

How Do You Prove Permanent Injury In Florida?

A diagnosis of permanent injury must be made by the victim’s treating medical doctor.

In court, a permanent injury is generally proven by the expert testimony of the treating medical doctor or doctors. If the treating doctor testifies to a permanent injury, then the plaintiff has made a prima facie case for pain and suffering.

You Must Prove the Other Driver That Hit You Was Negligent

To receive any compensation for any losses, you must first prove that the driver responsible for the accident was negligent. While you may have to sue other parties involved, roughly 95% of car crashes result from careless driving.

[ ROUGHLY 95% OF CAR CRASHES
RESULT FROM CARELESS DRIVING ]

What Is The Tort Threshold In Florida?

The Tort Threshold, also known as the “No Fault” Threshold, is compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, paralysis, and other physical injuries that are known as non-economic damages. In Florida, most motor vehicle accidents will only provide the plaintiff with money if they suffer a permanent injury (diagnosed by a treating medical doctor). 

The tort threshold in Florida is a law stating that victims of personal injury accidents must sustain one of four types of injuries in order to recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or mental anguish.

Injuries That Make Up The Tort Threshold 

a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function

b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement

c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement

d) Death

What are Some Permanent Car Accident Injuries?

Some of the most common permanent injuries commonly seen in car accidents in Florida include the following:

Neck and back injuries

Lacerations

Burns

Soft tissue injuries

Bone fractures

Loss of limbs

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)

Head injuries

Nerve damage

What are the Possible Permanent or Long-Term Consequences of a Car Accident?

Victims of a car accident can experience a variety of long-term effects and health issues, including the following:

Cognitive problems

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Anxiety and depression

Chronic pain

Paralysis

Death

Financial problems

Strained relationships with caregivers or loved ones

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT OUR “Car Wreck Checklist” >

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

 

Sources:
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.737.html

 

Why Won’t My Primary Care Physician Treat Me For My Car Accident Injuries?

According to Driver Knowledge, three million people in the U.S. are injured every year in car accidents. While many car accident victims want to turn their primary care physician for treatment for their injuries, however many victims are surprised to learn that their primary care physician will not treat them for the injuries sustained in a car accident. 

[ THREE MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S.
ARE INJURED EVERY YEAR
IN CAR ACCIDENTS ]

Why Is That? 

While Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Facilities are required to treat individuals, doctors and other specialists who practice outside of a hospital/emergency room setting are not subject to these laws and are free to choose which patients and injuries they wish to treat or not treat. This includes car accident victims.

Insurance and Payments Headaches for Doctors

Most doctors’ offices are set up to bill a patient’s health insurance. In Florida, for accident victims (particularly car accident victims) automobile insurance is the primary payment source. Your bills will most likely need to be submitted to your PIP (Personal Injury Protection). Your health insurance will deny the claim until your car insurance has paid the first $10,000.

The process for submission and reimbursement for PIP can be a minefield for doctors and take longer and in the end affect how they get paid. So many physicians don’t want to deal with accident injury cases.

Injuries Outside The Scope Of Physicians’ Expertise

If you suffer an injury that falls outside of the scope of expertise of your primary physician, they may not be comfortable offering treatment. Your primary physician (and your attorney) may refer you to a specialist who deals with accident injuries. 

Documentation

Any doctor that is treating you for an accident injury must keep extremely thorough records of everything since it can affect the compensation you will receive in your case.  All injuries must be documented properly with complete and 100% accurate information. The documents, statements, X-rays, MRI, and crash-related medical records are vital in getting the maximum compensation from the insurance company. 

Litigation

Any doctor who has treated your accident-related injuries may be called upon to testify if your injury case goes to court. Even if the doctor is not called to testify, he or she may still be asked to give a deposition to the attorneys in the case. Many times your primary care doctor lacks the experience to testify in court and may be unwilling to spend the time it takes to be in court and away from their patients. 

On the other hand, physicians who typically treat accident injuries are usually familiar with the legal process, and they know how to give testimony that will show the true nature of the victim’s injury.

So, What Can You Do? 

Speak with your lawyer. Your personal injury attorney can suggest doctors and specialists that have helped other personal injury clients. 

The most important thing to do after an accident is to seek necessary medical treatment during the life of your personal injury case. If you are in a car wreck you should immediately seek care at your nearest Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility to rule out any life-threatening injuries.

What To Do If You Are In A Car Accident While Traveling In Florida

1. Call the police and file a report
2. Swap information (including any insurance info they may have)
3. Gather details
4. Take pictures
5. Gather contact information of any witnesses
6. Seek medical care immediately for any injuries – no matter how minor you think they might be.

GET MORE HELPFUL INFORMATION ON WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT HERE AT OUR “Car Wreck Checklist” >

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.driverknowledge.com/car-accident-statistics/

October Legal Graffiti Event To Benefit The Birthday Party Pensacola

Our October Legal Graffiti event will be full of fun, frights, and, of course, spray paint!

Zarzaur Law’s Legal Graffiti event will be on Friday, Oct. 21 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. during Gallery Night.

This Month’s Event Benefits The Birthday Party Pensacola!


Come join us and enjoy FREE Halloween games, activities, music, and more at Legal Graffiti… Remember, the more you donate to spray paint, the more we can match dollar for dollar and give to The Birthday Party Pensacola!

The Halloween theme will also be highlighted with a hands-on-creepy-crawly exhibit by Animal Tales LLC!

About The Birthday Party Pensacola:

The Birthday Party is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating special memories for disadvantaged children … one party at a time.

The purpose of The Birthday Party (TBP) is to celebrate that special day, whether it be their birthday or some other milestone, in the life of a child who may temporarily find their little life under undesirable circumstances. 

The Board of Directors and volunteers go to the location, decorate, and host a party with games, face painting, favors, gifts, and cake and ice cream.

The staff and volunteers work with local shelters and organizations, such as Gulf Coast Kid’s House, Favor House of Northwest Florida, Embrace Florida Kids, Children in Crisis, Inc. Florida, Homeless Veteran’s Program, Pace Center For Girls Escambia-Santa Rosa, and many more.

Learn more about The Birthday Party Pensacola >

Save the date!! Friday, Oct. 21 – 5-9pm in Downtown Pensacola during Gallery Night!

About Zarzaur Law’s “Legal Graffiti” Fundraiser Events

“Legal Graffiti” is an event hosted at Zarzaur Law during each Gallery Night in downtown Pensacola. “Legal Graffiti” is an opportunity for anyone to make a donation and then create artwork on the (recycled billboard vinyl-covered) side of the Zarzaur Law office building using spray paint. The event raises money for non-profits & charities within the area. Donations are matched by the firm and given to the charity of choice. In the past six years of hosting the “Legal Graffiti” event, the firm has donated more than $100,000 to local charities. We are proud and honored to continue to give back to the community where we live, work and play.

legal graffiti fundraiser event
Watch Our “Legal Graffiti” Highlight Video! >

Our “Legal Graffiti” fundraiser recipients include:
Favor House
Gulf Coast Kid’s House
ARC Gateway
The Birthday Party
Project Mentee
American Cancer Society
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWF
Manna Food Pantries
Pathways for Change
Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart
Autism Pensacola
Rally Pensacola
Guardian ad Litem
Opening Doors NWFL
Alzheimer’s Association
United Way, Escambia County

Watch our “Legal Graffiti” highlight video! >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

#zarzaurlaw #gallerynightpensacola #downtownpensacola #legalgraffiti #spraypaint #community #event #fundraiser #pensacola #kidsincrisis

How Long Will It Take To Settle My Personal Injury Case?

Very few personal injury cases (which include car accident cases) actually go to trial. Most end in a settlement with the defendant or an insurance company. Unfortunately, the time that it takes to reach a settlement is hard to predict and can vary drastically. A claim that involves substantial injuries and a significant amount of money will take longer to settle because the insurer will fight harder over it. 

A settlement may also take longer to reach if the case is complex or the liability (at fault) is unclear.

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, and you called a personal injury lawyer like Joe Zarzaur to handle your case. It sounds simple, but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as those described.

Many clients are surprised at how long it takes to resolve their car wreck case.

While it is true that the rare case is resolved in a few weeks, most are not, and sometimes take years to settle. Why?

How Much Insurance Coverage is Available?

There are certain procedures that are common in all car wreck cases. After you hire a personal injury lawyer, the first thing to do is find out the insurance details. Florida law requires insurers of Florida residents to disclose all liability coverage within 30 days of demand. While some companies provide this information more quickly, most do not. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will send a request to your own insurance company to determine the limits of your medical coverage and also if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

This coverage protects you and allows you to make a claim for your injuries if the at-fault driver has little or no bodily injury coverage. The lawyer will also put your health insurers on notice of the claim, as they may also be responsible for paying for treatment after the no-fault (PIP or Personal Injury Protection) coverage is exhausted. This process is extremely important as the value of your claim is often determined by the insurance coverage available. It may be several weeks before your lawyer even knows how much coverage is available.

Treatment and Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

The Demand and Negotiation Phase

After the extent of your injury is known, a demand is made by your lawyer on your behalf to the at-fault party’s insurance company. An experienced and board-certified trial lawyer will have the benefit of knowing the value of such cases and will know how to properly negotiate with the insurance company. Make sure your personal injury lawyer has a reputation as one who will fight to get you the most for your accident claim. Companies know that experienced trial lawyers will take a case to trial if necessary and will pay accordingly.

The negotiation phase may take weeks or months, depending on the nature of the claim along with the availability of medical records and the insurance coverage.

If the at-fault party does not have enough coverage to fairly settle your claim, and you have underinsured motorist coverage, then an additional negotiation will occur with your own insurance company.

What if Your Car Wreck Case Does Not Settle?

A small percentage of cases do not settle at the presuit stage and must be filed in court. In other words, if the insurance company is not fair with its offer, the case must move on to the litigation stage. Your lawyer will file a suit in circuit court seeking damages. This process may take many months to get these cases ultimately resolved.

Litigation Process Includes:

Discovery Phase

To determine the nature of the injuries and the value of the claim.

Mediation

The courts will require a mediation session to try and resolve the case.

Trial

If a case cannot be resolved through mediation, the case will be scheduled for trial in court.

While most cases settle before trial, it may take many months to get this done.

This is a Marathon and Not a Sprint

While your car wreck case may seem simple, even simple cases can take a long time to get resolved. Between treatment, negotiation, possible litigation, or even trial, the process can seem overwhelming. That is why you need to hire an experienced trial lawyer to handle your case.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC

 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm has been dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defects, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. 

Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Offices in Pensacola, Destin, Miami, and Tallahassee.

Sources:

https://www.flhsmv.gov/insurance/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwCo_9H0xM&list=PLnCrJ0tzzzL6mRs3arN7h5wlrAbevkMq0&index=13&t=115s

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liability_insurance.asp

https://zarzaurlaw.com/what-is-um-coverage-and-why-is-it-important/

https://www.justia.com/injury/faqs/

How Can Electronic Discovery Affect Your Personal Injury Case?

Electronic discovery, also called e-discovery, is the process of obtaining and exchanging evidence in a legal case or investigation. E-discovery is used in the initial phases of litigation when involved parties are required to provide relevant records and evidence related to a case.

Everything is discoverable and opposing counsel is entitled to information and evidence held within your electronic devices. 

Evidence On Electronic Devices 

Cell phone records provide information about what time text messages were sent which may correlate to a car crash time. It can also prove if / when someone was logged into social media accounts or other apps. Cell phone records and even Social media posts can inadvertently show the other side what you’re physically capable of doing after your injury. Let’s say you post a picture of your family hiking, the other side might ask who took the picture. If that answer is you, then there is proof that you were hiking, all the while claiming that you have an injury from your accident that prevents you from your normal activities. What you post or share can call your case into question in ways you may not be able to predict.

Unlike many other records,
wireless phone records or
call detail records (CDR) are
NOT protected by
the Stored Communications Act
and are not protected by the
Fourth Amendment.

They can be obtained via subpoena or by request of the account holder via a notarized letter.

What Should You Do (or not do)?

If you’re bringing a personal injury claim in Florida, don’t post anything personal on social media. If you absolutely must use social media, limit your social media use to liking other people’s posts and sharing news articles. Ask your friends and family to also limit any discussion about your injuries or case on social media or via text messages on your cell phone. Even the most seemingly innocent comment or photo can be used in court and possibly complicate and impact your personal injury case.

What Is Discovery?

The term “discovery” is used to describe the pre-trial process of exchanging information between parties to a lawsuit.

Discovery enables litigants to compel adversaries to turn over evidence in their possession before trial. 

For the most part, discovery is a formal process that exists in both civil and criminal cases and takes place outside the courtroom.

What’s The Purpose Of Discovery?

Discovery was designed to prevent a situation where one side doesn’t learn of the other side’s evidence or witnesses until the trial, at which point there’s no time to obtain respondent evidence.

To put it simply, discovery levels the playing field by making all information relevant to the case available to both sides. The hope is that, when parties have access to the same information, the outcome of the case will be decided based on the merits of the case rather than on which party has the most information.

The Basis for Electronic Discovery in Florida State Courts 

In their current form, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure do not directly accommodate the discovery of electronic data. 6 However, Rule 1.280(b)(1) does state “parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action….”7 Rule 1.350(a) also provides that “[a]ny party may request any other party to… inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things that constitute matters within the scope of Rule 1.280(b)….”8 In 1996, the Fourth District in Strasser v. Yalamanchi, 669 So. 2d 1142 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996), held that both Rules 1.280 and 1.350 are sufficiently broad to include the discovery of electronic materials relevant to the underlying dispute. 9 Subsequently, other courts have found the Florida rules not only allow for the discovery of a party’s electronic data, but also a third party’s data. 10 As long as the files are “readily available” in the electronic form to the producing party, a requesting party may obtain the underlying electronic data (also known as native files) through a discovery request.11 However, such a request should be appropriately tailored to seek relevant electronic materials and not constitute a mere fishing expedition. 12

How Does The E-Discovery Process Work?

The process of discovery begins when a lawsuit appears imminent and ends when digital evidence is presented in court. Attorneys from both sides will determine the scope of e-discovery.

The following is a simple description of the e-discovery process:

Identification. ESI is identified by attorneys. E-discovery requests and challenges are made.

Preservation. Data that is identified as potentially relevant is placed under legal hold so it cannot be destroyed. Failure to preserve data will lead to sanctions and fines if the lost data puts the defense at a disadvantage.

Collection. Data is transferred from a company to legal counsel. The legal counsel determines the data’s relevance.

Processing. Files are loaded onto a review platform. Data is usually converted into a PDF (Portable Document Format) or TIFF (Tag Image File Format) for court.

Review. The review process assesses documents for privilege and responsiveness to discovery requests.

Production. Documents are exchanged with opposing counsel.

Legal Issues With E-Discovery

E-discovery is an evolving field that goes far beyond just technology. It can give rise to many legal, constitutional, political, security, and personal data privacy issues.

Proper E-Discovery Requires A Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert

An experienced Board Certified Professional will produce the correct document files, reviewed by the legal team, and ready for trial. Alex Jones, Trial Lawyer, is a good example of what NOT to do for your client. It was unfortunate and entirely preventable. A competent attorney should be able to know how to acquire, review, and produce the correct records without compromising the client’s privacy. Florida law recognizes a right to privacy, and courts are supposed to weigh and balance the competing interests in protecting personal information with the need to discover relevant evidence—evidence that could be critical in determining fault.

Make sure you hire a board-certified civil trial lawyer like Joe Zarzaur, for your personal injury case. Only about 1% of Florida lawyers are board certified and only a handful of lawyers have the same board certifications as Mr. Zarzaur. 

The firm also has attorneys who are AV Preeminent Rated by Martindale-Hubbell & have been named Florida Super Lawyers®

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm has been dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defects, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an auto accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/discovery-in-personal-injury.html

https://www.floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/electronic-discovery-in-florida/

https://www.techtarget.com/searchsecurity/definition/electronic-discovery-e-discovery-or-ediscovery

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/alex-jones-lawyers-accidentally-leak-years-emails-infowars-financial-d-rcna41378

Triathlon Accidents And Injuries Are On The Rise

triathlon accidents TampaIt’s every triathlete’s and cyclist’s worst nightmare—(newbies and experienced riders alike)—and it’s happening with increasing frequency. When a vehicle enters the bike lane, runs a red light, or makes a right-hand turn in front of a bike, the outcome usually doesn’t favor the cyclist.

Growing Concerns

Over the weekend of September 24, 2022, an accomplished triathlete in Tampa, Florida was killed while on a training ride on her bicycle, and another Ironman World Champion runner-up finisher sustained significant injuries when she was hit by a car while training in Texas.  They are just the latest in the number of fatal accidents from car vs bicycle crashes.

Florida Leads The Nation In Bicycle Crash Fatalities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicyclist fatalities in 2020 were highest in Florida (170), California (129), and Texas (79). In 2020, there was a 9% increase in the number of bicyclists killed (938), compared to 859 in 2019.

“Florida Ranks Third
In Total Bicyclists Crashes
And Accidents.”

When Do Bicycle Accidents Happen Most?

Bicycle-related deaths peak in the warmer months, starting in May, and they remain high through October. In 2020, the most deaths occurred in August (157) and the fewest in February (53).

Each year, approximately 55,000 cyclists are injured by vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 30 percent of all bicycle accident injuries occur when a bicyclist is struck by a car.

In the stress and pain of the moment, it’s hard to know what to do if a car hits you while riding.

What to Do If You Get Hit by a Car While Riding Your Bike

In the unfortunate event that a motorist versus cyclist accident does occur, it should be treated much like any other motor vehicle accident involving attention to the health, safety, and wellness of those involved with the immediate deployment of emergency medical personnel and law enforcement.

Once immediate safety has been secured, someone should obtain (via notation, digital voice memo, or photographs):

Documentation of the scene, including details of the weather, road conditions, and time of day, including identification of all parties and vehicles involved (first and last name, phone number, date of birth, vehicle make/model/color, license plate, or tag numbers). Please identify any witnesses to the event (first and last name, contact information). Documentation of all bodily injuries, including helmet and clothing damage, as well as vehicle and bicycle damage

Bicycle Accident CheckList

1. Call the police and report the accident (even if you don’t think you are hurt).

2. Pay attention to and remember what the other party says about how the accident occurred.

3. Preserve the condition of your bike, helmet, clothing, footwear, lighting, and other property.

4. As soon as possible, report the accident to your own car insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to accident claims (let your lawyer deal with the at-fault party and their insurance company).

5. Seek medical attention. Under Florida law, your car insurance is “primary” for your medical bills. Allow the ER or hospital to bill you for your car ins.

6. Keep documentation of the accident. Police report, photos of the bike (etc.), the scene, surroundings, other party’s vehicle

7. Maintain an injury log.

8. Don’t discuss the accident on social media.

9. Consult a personal injury lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents in Florida.

10. Always remember: you are invisible on a bicycle.

Seeking medical care for a thorough assessment by a qualified medical professional (emergency department, urgent care, primary care provider, medical specialist) should not be overlooked or delayed. The most common injuries, such as skin abrasions (i.e., road rash), may be a harbinger of an underlying injury such as fractures, dislocations, cardiopulmonary or vascular injury, or disrupted tendons/ligaments, while a broken helmet could be an indication that an evaluation for intracranial, neck or cervical spine injury may be warranted.

How Does One Law Firm Have A Staff That Has Collectively Raced And Finished Over 25 Full Ironman Distance Triathlons?

One word: perseverance. Zarzaur Law prides itself on hiring lawyers and staff that will not settle, people that are self-driven and pride themselves on achieving things that seem insurmountable.

Perseverance In Sport And Representing Clients Who Have Been Injured

The sport of triathlon is a challenging sport, even with the smaller distance events. The combination of three different sports and the need to train for multiple events requires athletes to be both fit and disciplined. High pain thresholds, mental toughness, time management, and devotion to a goal. All of these characteristics are necessary and valuable traits for the sport of triathlon but are also important in the business of personal injury litigation.

Insurance companies and their lawyers are like distance courses. They are in a war of attrition and their goal is to wear you and your lawyer down until you are willing to either give up or take next to nothing for your case. Our lawyers and staff are the perfect opposition to such a battle tactic. We have proven, even in our hobbies, that distance and discomfort are to be embraced and overcome.

Athlete / Triathlete Accidents and Injuries Are Special Types of Cases

Personal injuries that occur during triathlon activities such as swimming, biking, and/or running bring a special type of case to our firm. Our fellow athletes who become clients can’t help but become cases of special interest. We are you, and we understand what drives you and what places you in harm’s way. We have been on the road with crowded drivers who have no patience for cyclists; we have been in the races with hundreds of swimmers fighting for position around the first buoys; we have been on the run courses that traverse busy intersections with sketchy traffic control.  We have been there and we have thought about how easy it would be to be injured by such negligence.

Sporting events, including races, walks, and triathlons, can often yield many different types of injuries to participants. Injuries sustained from races may include:

  • Collision with other runners, swimmers, cyclists, automobiles
  • Wrecks due to improper racing conditions, like fog or damaged racing surfaces.
  • Hypothermia
  • E. coli contraction
  • Exhaustion or serious injury due to coaching negligence
  • Serious infection or disease caused by waterborne bacteria.
  • Respiratory infections
  • Road rash
  • Knee injury
  • Muscle strain
  • Torn ligaments
  • Head injury
  • Heat exhaustion

The Long-Term Effects (Physical And Mental) Of A Sporting Accident

We also know what a toll a serious injury can have on an athlete’s life. We have all had injuries if you have competed in any of the three sports that make up triathlon. Fortunately, none of us have suffered life-changing injuries, and most of our clients end up with this fate. This is not something we can speak about via personal experience, but it is something we can relate to given our experience with the sport and being injured and suffering temporary disabling conditions.

We understand the mental and emotional injury that is suffered a day in and day out when you cannot do the thing that you love and that your body craves. This helps us as a personal injury law firm. We have a taste of the disability and loss that you or your family’s sports-related injury has and will continue to have in the future.

Hire a Law Firm With Triathlon Experience.

Having a law firm that knows athletics and specifically knows the sports of triathlon not only assures you and your family that we will understand the facts of your case but also provides a guarantee that we will also appreciate how this injury or loss will continue to affect you and your family for years to come.

Pensacola injury lawyer Joe Zarzaur
and Dr. Evan Malone are active cyclists
and participate in triathlons
on a regular basis.

By hiring Zarzaur Law, you will hire a legal team that understands cycling, knows cyclist rights, and will aggressively help you fight for your rights. At Zarzaur Law, we handle bicycle injury cases, defective bicycle components, defective roadway conditions, as well as everything else related to bicycle accident cases.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more.

Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you.

We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

For more information review the links below and research the organizations specific to your locale:

CDC Bicycle Safety

https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/bicycle/index.html

NHTSA Bicycle Crash Stats

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813197

2021 Florida Statutes – 316.2065:  Bicycle regulations

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.2065.html

Florida Bicycle Association

https://floridabicycle.org

Bike Pensacola

https://www.bikepensacola.org/

West Florida Wheelmen

https://www.westfloridawheelmen.org/advocacy

https://media.acg.aaa.com//content/1205/files/2019%20Q2%20Consumer%20Pulse_Bicycle%20Safety.pdf

Bicycle Deaths

In A Distracted World, Can Cyclists Ever Feel Safe?

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable In Florida?

Is My Personal Injury Settlement Taxable In FloridaAt Zarzaur Law, we do get a lot of clients asking at the end of their case if their personal injury compensation is taxable. Normally, the compensation you receive for the physical pain and suffering associated with your car accident (or other type of accident that caused personal injury) and attendant injuries is not taxable. This compensation is considered to align with your compensation for medical expenses and, therefore, avoid tax liability. These personal injury awards are reportable, but not taxable.

While we are lawyers and not accountants, we always advise our clients to seek the advice of a tax professional with questions in regards to income from a settlement.

Below is some basic information to help answer this question.

Personal Injury Damages That Can Be Compensated For And Not Taxable Include:

Medical expenses 
Physical and mental pain and suffering
Permanent injuries and impairments

Handling Your Medical Expenses

According to an article by Picnic Tax, the tax treatment of settlements received for an injury depends on how you handle your medical expenses. If you did not deduct any medical expenses related to your physical injury on previous tax returns, the settlement money you receive is not taxable. The IRS won’t allow you to double-dip, however. If you deducted medical expenses related to your injury during the previous year, part of your settlement is taxable.

An Example:

Let’s say you were injured in a car accident in 2020. As a result of the accident, you required surgery that cost $30,000. You paid the hospital bill in 2020 and deducted $30,000 from your income taxes as a medical expense. In 2021, the lawsuit related to your accident was settled, and you received $50,000 for your physical injuries to cover both past and potential future medical expenses. In this case, $30,000 of your settlement is taxable and $20,000 isn’t.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress settlements related to your physical injuries aren’t taxable. In the car accident example, if you were unable to work for several months after your accident and had subsequent surgery, you were also unable to enjoy life as you normally would. This resulted in severe depression and emotional distress. In this case, your emotional distress settlement isn’t taxable because the distress was the direct result of your injuries.

However, compensation for emotional distress only, without a physical injury, may be taxable. 

Questions To Ask A Tax Professional About Your Injury Settlement

If you are concerned that your Florida injury settlement could have a negative effect on your finances come tax time.

Ask questions such as:

  • What type of information and documentation do you need from me?
  • Is any of the money I received taxable?
  • How does the IRS determine what is and isn’t taxable?
  • What impact does the injury settlement have on other taxes that I may have to pay?

A Florida tax professional can answer these questions, among others, to ensure that you’re making safe financial decisions.

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Topic

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more.

Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you.

We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Are Legal Settlements Taxable? Tax Implications of Settlements and Judgments

https://www.irs.gov/government-entities/tax-implications-of-settlements-and-judgments

What If I Lose My Job During My Injury Case? 

Personal injuries caused by an accident that was due to no fault of their own, can have significant effects on every aspect of a client’s life.  In many personal injury cases, these effects can include an impact on a person’s job or career.  The loss of a job means the loss of income for the injured person and those who rely on him/her.   Like every other item of damages associated with a traumatic injury, clients want to know whether wage losses or job losses are the types of damages that are available as part of a personal injury case.

Wage Loss And Accident Injury Connection

The key to whether such damages are recoverable in a personal injury case depends upon how much and what type of evidence you have which connects the wage loss to the injury.  For example, if you miss wages as a result of your personal injury (such as a car accident injury), then you must connect your injury or treatment to the wage loss. 

This can be done by showing the following:
1. Your medical appointments required an absence from work.

2. Your treating doctor restricted you from working and it is notated in a medical record. 

Either of these situations can be demonstrated by reference to the medical records or medical appointments. 

What About Job Loss Due To Injury?

Some clients not only miss wages as a result of their personal injuries but end up losing their jobs.  It may appear to be unfair that an employer in Florida can fire you for an injury that you did not cause.  Unless the injury was suffered while working (workers’ compensation injury), the employer has the right to terminate most employees for any reason, including their physical limitations that result from a traumatic injury.  Business owners can work with clients, but most will only tolerate absences and limited work performance for so long before they determine that it is no longer in their best interest to keep you employed.  

Obviously, if your employer can find some position that will allow you to continue your employment, that would be best for you.  If, however, your employer doesn’t have any roles that are less physically demanding  you may find yourself without a job and without an income while you are recovering from the injury. 

Proper Documentation And Proof Of Termination Due To Injury

Lose My Job During My Injury CaseIn order to be able to recover for wage loss associated with any personal injury case, you have to have evidence that connects your wage loss to the injury-causing event.  This means that your termination or resignation should be documented in a way that connects your injury to your inability to work.  These documents should reference a superior at your former employer so that you have not only a document as evidence but a witness that can be called to verify the basis of the termination/resignation.  Ideally, if you can coordinate your departure from employment while your injury case is pending, you and your personal injury lawyer can make it clear for evidentiary purposes. 

For instance, you and your personal injury lawyer can discuss the wording of the resignation letter or the termination notice and make sure that it references your absences since the injury, otherwise you would have remained gainfully employed.  

Mitigating Your Lost Wages

Once you are without a job, it is important that you just don’t give up on making money.  The law will require that you “mitigate” your lost wage damages.  Just like the law requires that you seek medical treatment for your physical injuries, the law also requires that you try and find a replacement source of wages.  This means only that you must make reasonable efforts to find a replacement source of income.  This does not mean that you have to find a job but it certainly means that you have to use reasonable efforts to find any job that you are physically able to do that could replace some of the lost wages. 

So, as you can see, losing a job while you are dealing with your personal injury case is not a simple business.  It is complicated and deserves the attention of a law firm that has professionals working for you and your family.  If you have questions about any personal injury matter, which would include a serious car accident injury, please feel free to reach out to zarzaurlaw.com or call our firm at 855HireJoe.

WATCH OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THIS SUBJECT

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more.

Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you.

We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH: DENNIS CHAVEZ – FIRST AMERICAN-BORN HISPANIC SENATOR

Courtesy of Library of Congress

National Hispanic Heritage month – Sept 15-Oct. 15. A time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive history of the American Latino community. 

As we enter Hispanic heritage month, we wanted to recognize a few of the trailblazing Hispanic attorneys who have achieved great success throughout their legal careers.

Early Years

Dionisio (Dennis) Chávez was born in Los Chavez, a farming community in New Mexico on April 8, 1888. At age seven his family moved to Albuquerque, where he attended public and Catholic schools. Family circumstances forced him to quit school and begin paid employment when he was in the seventh grade. He worked at a grocery store until he was eighteen, when he was fired for refusing to deliver groceries to a group of strike breakers. He continued his education at the Albuquerque Public Library, and studied U.S. history and the biographies of political leaders, an education that influenced his political thinking and his subsequent support for education.

Clerkship

From 1906 to 1915 he worked for the Engineering Department of Albuquerque, and became active in politics. He supported various Democratic Party candidates, including Octaviano A. Larrazolo in his 1908 bid for Congress, and served as interpreter for Governor William G. McDonalds in 1911. In his first attempt to win public office in 1916, Chávez lost the Bernalillo County clerkship by only 300 votes. That same year Chávez campaigned for Andieus Jones, the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. Senate, and acted as his interpreter when Jones visited Spanish-speaking areas. Jones procured a clerkship in the Senate for Chávez, and for three years Chávez worked during the day and at night studied law at Georgetown University.

U.S. House Of Representatives

In 1920 Chávez returned to Albuquerque, where he practiced criminal law and remained active in the Democratic Party. In 1922 he was elected to the State House of Representatives, where he sponsored a bill for the provision of free textbooks in public schools. In 1930 he defeated Albert Simms, the Republican Representative from New Mexico. During the two terms he served in the U.S. House of Representatives, Chávez was assigned to committees that were of importance to the issues of the day in New Mexico: Indian Affairs, Irrigation and Reclamation, Public Buildings, Public Land, War Claims, and Veterans Committees.

In 1934 Chávez ran against the influential Republican U.S. Senator, Bronson Cutting, in a close and intense campaign, which has been characterized by historians of New Mexican politics as an epic battle for a United States Senate seat. Chávez, who was defeated by a narrow margin, contested the election on the grounds of fraud. The issue had not been settled when Cutting was killed in an airplane accident while returning to Washington. The Governor of New Mexico, Clyde Tingley, appointed Chávez interim Senator, and in 1936 Chávez was elected to complete the term. He served in the Senate for the next fourteen years.

The New Deal

His constituents staunchly supported him because he took seriously the advice given to him by House Speaker John N. Garner (D-TX), who said “the most successful Congressmen are errand boys for the people who elect them.” With this in mind, Chávez used his appointments in committees for the benefit of the people of New Mexico. Throughout his career in Congress, beginning with his first term as Congressman during the Depression, he supported the Home Owner Loan Corporation, which allowed thousands of home owners to keep their property. He was a firm New Dealer who supported President Roosevelt and almost all the White House’s legislative programs.

Defender Of Civil Rights

As a young reader in the Albuquerque Public Library, Chávez had been influenced by the Jeffersonian ideals of freedom. In the 1940’s Chávez proved himself a strong defender of civil rights and prepared the groundwork for subsequent legislation. In 1944 he introduced a bill for the establishment of a Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) “to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, creed, national origin, or ancestry” (Vigil and Lujan 1986). Although he campaigned for four years to pass the bill, it was defeated by a Southern filibuster. While others avoided the subject or denied the existence of discrimination against Hispanics, Senator Chávez was not afraid to bring the “race” issue into elections and politics.

In the 1950’s Chávez was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Public Works, which, under his direction, did much to maintain and build important aspects of the economic infrastructure of the country including expansion of the interstate highway system, improvement of harbors and water ways, and building of Federal Offices and Post Offices. In the 1960’s when he served as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense, he secured for New Mexico important defense-technology contracts, which were the most important stimuli for economic growth in the state for the next thirty years.

During his time in Washington, Chávez acted as a mentor to youths from New Mexico. Since New Mexico did not have a law school, he assisted many young men to come Washington to continue their education.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you have been injured it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website at www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Midwifery Care And Risk Factors

When planning for the birth of a new baby, there are many options and decisions that soon-to-be new moms need to make. One of the most important decisions is choosing a healthcare provider during your pregnancy. One type of provider is a midwife.

Midwives are healthcare providers who deal with pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, and postpartum health. Some midwives provide routine reproductive care like pelvic exams, Pap tests, or counseling on birth control. Midwives tend to be more holistic and supportive of natural approaches to pregnancy and birth. Midwives are normally used by those who choose to have a planned home birth. 

Are There Risks Associated With Using A Midwife?

While midwives provide the majority of care in countries like the U.K. and the Netherlands, midwife-led home births account for only about 10% of births in the United States.  (https://www.forbes.com/health/family/what-is-a-midwife/)

While in recent years, more families have sought out a more holistic, non-hospital location for giving birth and for the care provider, such as a home birth using a midwife, the complications of giving birth outside of a hospital have their own risk factors and cause concern.

Midwives consult with OBGYNs, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, and other healthcare providers to mitigate risk in your care. Working with a midwife who attends births in a hospital setting is usually recommended if you are worried about delivery. This can give you the safety net you’re looking for if a complication arises.

CASE STUDY: Recent Midwifery Medical Malpractice Case At Zarzaur Law

In a recent medical malpractice case, the firm handled an expecting mother who enrolled the services of midwives for an out-of-hospital birth.  The risks of this pregnancy and labor included:

  • Advanced maternal age
  • Absent collaboration with a physician with admitting privileges at a hospital in the immediate area
  • Incomplete emergency backup plan
  • Pregnancy extending to late-term and post-term (41-42 weeks)
  • Meconium stained amniotic fluid
  • Arrest of cervical dilation, with the ultimate outcome resulting in severe medical complications for the laboring mother and intrauterine fetal demise.

If you would like more information on the particular case or have had a similar, complicated experience, please reach out to the firm at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855hirejoe.

Why Would You Use A Midwife Instead Of A Doctor?

Many women choose a midwife over a doctor because they want additional emotional support before, during, and after delivery. A midwife will get to know you, your family, and your preferences over the course of your pregnancy. Midwives also allow for a planned home birth in Florida.

What Are The Possible Risks Of A Planned Home Birth?

midwifery care and risk factorsMost pregnant people who choose to have planned home births deliver without problems. But research suggests that planned home births are associated with a higher risk of infant death, seizures, and nervous system disorders than planned hospital births.

There are several factors that might reduce the risks of these problems, including having:

  • Assistance from a certified nurse-midwife
  • Access to a doctor who specializes in obstetrics
  • A plan for transportation to a nearby hospital, if needed

It’s important to talk to your health care provider before you make a decision about a planned home birth. For some people with certain health conditions, as well as those who have never given birth before, the risks of a planned home birth may be higher than they are for others.

What Is A Midwife?

Midwives are healthcare providers who deal with pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, and postpartum health. Some midwives provide routine reproductive care like pelvic exams, Pap tests, or counseling on birth control. Midwives tend to be more holistic and supportive of natural approaches to pregnancy and birth. People often choose a midwife when they know they want a nonmedicated birth or want to give birth at home.

Midwives are usually not physicians. They often work alongside obstetricians and gynecologists (Ob/Gyns) in a hospital to ensure you have access to any care you need. A midwife is recommended when your pregnancy is low-risk or if you have only mild complications.

Pregnancy and labor are very personal experiences. You have a choice about the kind of care you’d prefer. That’s why it may help to know the differences between midwives and Ob/Gyns.

What Does A Midwife Do?

It depends on their credentials, certifications, schooling, and where they practice. Certified midwives and certified nurse midwives can offer the most services. Midwives who aren’t certified offer fewer services.

Some of the health services a midwife may provide include:

A certified nurse midwife can practice at hospitals, clinics, birth centers, or your home. Midwives who are not certified are limited in where they can practice. It’s best to ask your midwife what credentials they have and ask your hospital or birth center what the regulations are for midwife care.

What Are The Different Types Of Midwives?

There are a few different types of midwives:

  • Certified nurse midwives (CNMs): CNMs have completed nursing school and have a graduate degree in midwifery. In addition to pregnancy care and delivery, they can provide general reproductive care, prescribe medication, order lab tests and diagnose conditions. They’re qualified to work in hospitals, homes, and birth centers. CNMs are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. They work in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Certified midwives (CMs): CMs have a master’s degree in midwifery, but they haven’t completed nursing school. CMs have an undergraduate degree in something other than nursing. They’re certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board and can prescribe medications. CMs are only licensed to practice in a few (nine) states.
  • CPMs (certified professional midwives): CPMs work in birth centers or at home.They have completed coursework and are certified by the North American Registry of Midwives. CPMs aren’t licensed to practice in all states and can’t prescribe medications.
  • Unlicensed or lay midwives: These midwives don’t have certification or a license to practice. They are either self-taught or have received some other type of training, which could include an apprenticeship. Unlicensed midwives work almost exclusively in homes.

Are Midwives Doctors?

Most midwives aren’t doctors. Some earn doctorates in nursing practice.

The Differences Between A Midwife And An OB-GYN

OB-GYNs and midwives both provide great pregnancy care and safely deliver babies. But there are some fundamental differences.

OB-GYNs and midwives have different credentials and educational backgrounds.

While OB-GYNs and midwives are part of the same specialty area, the training, education requirements, and credentials they hold are different.

OB-GYNs are medical doctors

An OB-GYN (which is short for obstetrician-gynecologist) is a medical doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health, as well as pregnancy care and delivering babies. They’re also surgically trained and can perform cesarean sections (C-sections) when necessary. You may already have visited an OB-GYN for your annual well-woman’s visit.

When it comes to training and education, OB-GYNs complete four years of medical school, a four-year residency program, and a three-year fellowship.

Board-eligible vs. Board-certified OB-GYNs

OB-GYNs – like other medical doctors – can also pursue certification from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) after they’ve completed their residency and gotten their license to practice. Board-certification is optional but a mark of distinction, implying that a doctor has gone above and beyond the minimum standard of education in their field.

The path to certification requires passing a qualifying exam, preparing an extensive case list demonstrating expertise in multiple categories, and then passing a certification exam. At HealthPartners, all our OB-GYNs are board-certified.

Is A Midwife Better Than An OB/Gyn?

It’s a personal preference. Some people prefer midwives, and others prefer OB/Gyns. A midwife is typically only recommended for low-risk pregnancies. Most pregnancies in the United States are low-risk. Some advantages of using a midwife are:

  • There is less chance of induction or assisted delivery.
  • Cesarean delivery is less likely.
  • Reduced use of epidurals or other medications.
  • There is less risk of third and fourth-degree perineal tears.
  • More flexibility for home births.
  • You have greater control over your care.

Midwives are typically not trained to perform surgeries. Midwives will refer people to OB/Gyns if their pregnancy or birthing experience becomes complicated or high-risk.

Should You Have A Midwife?

A midwife might be for you IF you have a low-risk, routine pregnancy and if you desire a more personalized relationship with your provider. If you have a health condition that could complicate your pregnancy or delivery, close collaboration between your midwife and obstetrician is ideal. Some of these conditions include:

If you decide to use a midwife, we recommend finding one who’s licensed and certified to practice in your state.

The links below provide information on midwifery practices and licensed midwives in the state of Florida.

 

Florida Rule 64B24-7 Midwifery Practice >

Florida Statute Chapter 467 Midwifery >

FL DOH Licensed Midwifery >

Do Midwives Do C-sections?

Midwives can’t perform c-sections, but they can assist in them. If you require a c-section, a collaborating physician will be called on to assume care.

Do Midwives Give Epidurals?

Some midwives can prescribe epidurals, but midwives can’t give epidurals. They consult with an anesthesiologist or a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Anesthesia providers are typically available in hospital settings only.

What Questions Should You Ask Before Choosing A Midwife?

A lot of people interview potential midwives to make sure they feel comfortable with them prior to beginning services. Some questions you should consider before choosing a midwife are:

  • Where will I deliver my baby?
  • What kind of training do you have?
  • How long have you been a midwife?
  • How many births have you attended?
  • What are your philosophies or values when it comes to childbirth?
  • What kinds of tests or screenings do you perform during pregnancy?
  • Does insurance cover any of the cost?
  • Do you work with any local Ob/Gyns?

If Necessary, Prepare To Go To A Hospital

Make the following preparations for a smooth transition to a hospital, if you need it:

  • Discuss with your health care provider the symptoms that might mean you’ll have to go to a hospital. Talk about how that fits into your birth plan.
  • Make sure you have access to transportation. Ideally, your home or other birth location is within 15 minutes of a hospital with 24-hour maternity care.
  • Ask your health care provider to make arrangements with a nearby hospital to ensure that you can be promptly moved to the hospital and treated, if necessary.

The links below provide important information with regards to emergency backup plans and agreements for midwives in the state of Florida.

 

Florida Department of Health Emergency Plan for Licensed Midwifery >

Florida Department of Health Collaborative Management Agreement >

Hospitals or certified birth centers are the safest settings for delivery. However, you have the right to make an informed decision about where you prefer to deliver your baby. Keep in mind that life-threatening problems can occur during labor and delivery. In those cases, the need to take you and your baby to a hospital could delay care. That could put your lives at risk. Understand the risks and benefits of a home birth before you make a decision about where to deliver.

Watch Our YouTube Video On This Subject 

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If your newborn child has been injured or have experienced a birth injury, while in the care of a midwife, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22648-midwife

https://www.healthpartners.com/blog/midwife-vs-obgyn-whats-the-difference/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/in-depth/home-birth/art-20046878

Florida Rule 64B24-7 Midwifery Practice

https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=64B24-7

Florida Statute Chapter 467 Midwifery

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0400-0499/0467/0467.html

FL DOH Licensed Midwifery

https://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/midwifery/index.html

FL DOH Emergency Backup Plan For Licensed Midwifery

https://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/midwifery/resources/_documents/emergency-backup-plan.pdf

FL DOH Collaborative Management Agreement

https://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/midwifery/resources/_documents/collaborative-management-agreement.pdf