Personal Injury and Criminal Defense FAQ

What if the car accident was partially my fault? When do I have a legitimate premises liability claim? What is the first step I need to take after a dog bite? We answer questions like these and many more on our personal injury Frequently Asked Questions page.

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  • Who Is Liable For A Dog Bite in Jacksonville, Florida?

    borwn puppy biting a rope

    Who Is Liable After A Dog Attacks? 

    Florida law holds the dog owner responsible regardless of how long you have had the dog, whether the dog has ever bitten someone before or whether you had any knowledge of your dog ever biting someone in the past.

    Fla. Stat. 767.04 Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten

    The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident. A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog.”

    What To Do If You Have Been Attacked By A Dog

    If you have been attacked:

    • Contact the police so a report can be made and the owner can be found and identified
    • Seek medical treatment.
    • Stay away from the owner and the dog.
    • Contact an attorney who can begin an investigation into the dog owner, the facts of the case and any available insurance policies. 

    If You Have Questions About An Injury You Suffered

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883

  • Do I Have To Press Charges If I Report a Rape?

    Black and white photo of hands holding a wooden heart

    You Do Not Have To Press Charges If You Call The Police Or A Victim Advocate To Report A Rape.

    A very common belief, and a very real reason why people don't want to report a sexual assault, is they think they will have to press charges and go through a criminal proceeding if they contact the police or even a victim advocate. THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    Calling the police or the Rape Crisis Hotline, (904) 721-7273, only guarantees you will get the help and support you need. The Women's Center of Jacksonville Rape Recovery Team will respond quickly and compassionately whether or not you chose to report the crime to the police. 

    The Women's Center of Jacksonville

    The team at the Women's Center will be immediate help when you call the Crisis Hotline. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Services provided will include:

    • Emotional support to survivors and their loved ones at any stage of the recovery process.
    • Inform survivors of their rights and options
    • Provide information, referrals, and long-term follow-up to assist survivors with their recovery.
    • Peer-led, empowerment-based support groups for survivors.
    • Assist survivors, who have reported the assault to the police, with navigating the criminal justice system. 
    • Advocacy services are available for non-English speakers. 

    The Women's Center also provides the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (Safe) Program.

    • Provides sexual assault forensic exams to survivors of sexual violence ages 18 and older whether or not you chose to report the crime to the police.
    • Process includes a head-to-toe medical check, including injury documentation and collection of physical evidence.
    • Exams are available within 120 hours (5 days) from the time of the assault. 

    Calling the Rape Crisis Hotline will be a great first step in an often long recovery. You will never be forced to report the assault to the police and even if you call the police, you will never be forced to press charges. You have up to two years, after having a rape kit done, to decide whether or not you want to report the crime. 

    The services provided by the Women's Center are offered free of charge to survivors of all genders in Duval, Baker and Nassau counties. 

    * information above provided by Women's Center of Jacksonville Rape Recovery Team brochure

    If You Have Questions Regarding Your Rights as a Survivor of Rape or Sexual Abuse

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • Can I Sue My Own Car Insurance Company After A Car Accident?

    Blue car with smashed front end

    Can You Sue Your Own Insurance Company?

    Yes, under certain circumstances and if you have the right coverage. In most car crash cases, you would seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company, but what if the other driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance to cover your damages? This scenario is more common than you think. I have a tough case now where my client was walking and run over by a drunk driver, however my client doesn't have car insurance, therefore no uninsured motorist coverage. The drunk driver has minimal coverage that doesn't come close to covering the extensive medical costs. I'm in the process of investigating every possible pathway for liability to try to make a recovery for my severely injured client. 

    Florida Uninsured Motorist Coverage

    In Florida, UM (uninsured motorist coverage) provides compensation to a person who is seriously injured or killed due to the negligence of an uninsured or underinsured motorist. This can be very important coverage to get through your car insurance.

    When injured in a car crash, you will seek damages from the other driver’s insurance company. If the other driver does not have insurance or has very minimal coverage, you will not be able to recover the full amount you may be owed. UM is provided by your insurance company to protect you in such a situation.

    You can try to sue the at-fault person, but it is often difficult to recover money from an individual since they may not have much. If you have UM coverage, you can avoid suing an individual by filing a claim with your own insurance company instead.

    You may also be entitled to additional money through the stacking of coverage. If a person under one insurance policy owns two or more vehicles, they can combine or stack the coverage for each vehicle insured on the policy. All you have to do is call your insurance company and talk to them about your options. For example, I have two vehicles. I have $100,000 in UM coverage on each vehicle and chose to have this coverage stacked, meaning I now have $200,000 in available coverage if I'm seriously injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. It took me only minutes to get this done when I called my insurance company. You may not be able to afford all the bells and whistles in an insurance policy, but you should at least consider some form of UM coverage in the event of a car crash.

    With the example of my own client, if he had car insurance and uninsured motorist coverage, even though he was a pedestrian, we could make a claim to recover against his insurance. 

    If You Have Questions About a Car Accident or Any Other Injury You Suffered

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883

    Get Your Questions Answered Now By Getting Your FREE Florida Car Accident Guide.

  • I Can’t Work, What About My Lost Wages?

    Man opening wallet with money

    How You Can Help Recover Your Lost Wages

    Being injured is not only painful, it can also be costly. Many people find them selves on unable to work or having to work less hours due to the injury and pain. There are ways to recover percentages of your lost wages. An attorney will need to address the issue of lost wages with all insurance companies involved and you can help by providing the necessary information.

    In order to make a strong demand for your lost wages, your attorney will need the following:

    1. A medical report. It is not enough to simply not feel like going to work after a crash. You must have a doctor’s assessment that says you were medically unable to perform your job duties as a direct result of the injuries caused by the crash. That is why seeking immediate medical attention after the incident is vital to a complete financial recovery.
    2. Wage documents. You will also need to verify through a W-2 or paystub what you were earning before the crash and how much you lost by not working.
    3. V​erification from your employer. You will need your employer to write a letter confirming important information such as the dates you missed work, your rate of pay, and the number of hours you should have worked during the time you were injured.

    If You Have Questions About a Car Accident or Any Other Injury You Suffered

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883

    Get Your Questions Answered Now By Getting Your FREE Florida Car Accident Guide.

  • How Can I Report Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse in Florida?

    Inside Catholic Church

    How Can I Report Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse in Florida?

    The Attorney General's Office of Florida has launched an investigation in the past sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic Priest in Florida. This investigation rides on the tail of a similar and highly damaging and informative investigation completed in Pennsylvania where more than 1000 children had been molested since the 1940s. 

    Attorney General Pam Bondi has stated she has already received complaints from victims and that her office has spoken to several bishops overlooking the Roman Catholic Diocese in Florida. 

    This investigation is good news and a long time coming. The allegations against priest are not isolated to only certain areas of the country, they are all over the world. While the majority of priest are good people, it has been shown that there were decisions made by the church and it's leaders that helped facilitate abuse and cover it up. 

    How to Report Catholic Priest Sexual Abuse in Florida

    If you have been abused or know someone who has you can visit the Attorney General's Office website and press on the tip link. You can click here for the tip form. 

    Statute of Limitations for Claim of Sexual Abuse 

    • 7 years after age of 18
    • 4 years after leaving the dependency of the abuser
    • 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later.

    That last one is obviously the most confusing. The Florida legislature thankfully took into account the unique nature of sexual abuse and the often seen scenario of repressed memories. What the law allows is what is commonly called the "delayed discover rule". The 4 years statute of limitations does not begin until the victim either knows or reasonably should know of the wrongful act giving rise to the claim. So an adult who finds out many years later that he/she was abused as a child, can still sue as long as they do it within 4 years of making the discovery of the abuse. As is often the case, the issue of when someone knew or should of known, is going to be argued over. You should find an attorney who can begin putting together the timeline and building any arguments necessary to make sure your claim survives. Just know that you may still have a lawsuit even though the abuse happened years ago and you should not hesitate to reach out to an attorney for a free consultation.  

    If You Have Questions Regarding Your Rights as a Survivor of Rape or Sexual Abuse

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

     

  • What are the Federal Mandatory Minimums for Drug Cases?

    barbed wire around a prison

    Mandatory minimums in federal sentences can often times be brutal. A person facing their first ever serious charge could be looking at a decade or more in prison. Below is a basic summary of some common drug mandatory minimums, this information was taken from the Untied States Sentencing Commission's Overview of Mandatory Minimum Penalties.

    The term “mandatory minimum penalty” refers to a federal criminal statute requiring the imposition of a specified minimum term of imprisonment.20 Mandatory minimum penalties vary in length depending on the offense type and specified criteria, from two years for aggravated identity theft, to life in prison for certain drug trafficking offenses. 

    The mandatory minimum penalty applies if the instant offense of conviction involves a specified element of which the offender is found guilty. In the case of drug offenses, these triggering characteristics include manufacturing, trafficking, importing or distributing a particular type of drug at quantities above a specified threshold. For example, a person convicted of trafficking 28 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base (crack cocaine) is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of not less than five years, whereas a person convicted of an offense involving 280 grams is subject to a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years.

    Common Drug Mandatory Minimum Penalties

       5 Year Mandatory  10 Year Mandatory
    Heroin  100 Grams or more  1 KG or more
    Powder Cocaine  500 Grams or more  5 KG or more
    Cocaine Base (crack)  28 Grams or more  280 Grams or more
    Marijuana  100 KG or more  1000 KG or more
    Methamphetamine (pure)  5 Grams or more  50 Grams or more
    Methamphetamine (mixture)  50 Grams or more  500 Grams or more

     

    Getting Out From Under a Mandatory Minimum 

    Not all offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty are sentenced to the minimum term of imprisonment specified in the statute of conviction. Under the current system, a sentencing court can impose a sentence below an otherwise applicable statutory mandatory minimum penalty if: (1) the prosecution files a motion based on the defendant’s “substantial assistance” to authorities in the investigation or prosecution of another person; or (2) in certain drug trafficking cases, the defendant qualifies for the statutory “safety valve”.

    ​If You Have Any Questions Regarding A Federal Criminal Charge

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • What Can I Do If I Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect?

    Woman on cell phone looking very serious

    What Can I Do If I Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect?

    Anyone can and should report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you think a child is being mistreated, take immediate action.

    If you suspect abuse in Jacksonville, Florida, you can contact the Florida Department of Children and Families or call the the Florida Abuse Hotline 24 hours a day and 7 days a week at 1-800-962-2873 or fill out an online form

    The Child Welfare Information Gateway provides the following advice. 

    Information to Provide When Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect.

    When you call to make a report, you will be asked for specific information, such as the following:

    • The child’s name and location • The name and relationship (if known) of the person you believe is abusing the child

    • What you have seen or heard regarding the abuse or neglect

    • The names of any other people who might know about the abuse

    • Your name and phone number (voluntary)

    Reporting the situation may protect the child and get additional help for the family. Many nonprofit, public, education, social service, and child care organizations in your community play a role in providing supports and services to children, youth, and families. Parenting education, crisis/respite care, transitional housing, and literacy programs as well as family resource centers, teen parent support groups, fatherhood groups, and marriage education classes support families in important ways.

    If You or a Loved One Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse and You Have Questions

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • Can I Get Out of My Plea of Guilty to DUI in Jacksonville?

    Person drinking a beer while driving

    This question often arises after a person has plead guilty to DUI in their first appearance, or what is called J1 in Jacksonville, Florida. A person arrested is required to be brought in front of a Judge within 24 hours. This is called the J1 hearing. The Judge will review the arrest report for probable cause and make a determination on bail. People arrested on misdemeanors are also provided the opportunity to plea guilty and be sentenced immediately. There is a prosecutor and public defender present.

    When it comes to DUIs though, the consequences are often extensive and difficult to specifically articulate to a client who may have just spent 12 hours in jail for the first time in their lives. They are afraid, tired, hungry and often is a bit of shock and daze. 

    For a first time offender, this can be a very intimidating situation and without proper legal advice can lead to unnecessarily harsh plea deals and convictions that will stay on your records forever. 

    So can you withdraw a plea of guilty to DUI

    You can absolutely try. 

    The Law on Withdrawing a Plea of Guilty in Jacksonville, Florida

    Rule 3.170(f) Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, provides that “The court may in its discretion, and shall on good cause, at any time before a sentence, permit a plea of guilty or no contest to be withdrawn and, if judgment of conviction has been entered thereon, set aside the judgment and allow a plea of not guilty, or, with the consent of the prosecuting attorney, allow a plea of guilty or no contest of a lesser included offense, or of a lesser degree of the offense charged, to be substituted for the plea of guilty or no contest.” 

    A plea of guilty should be entirely voluntary and should not be induced by fear, misapprehension or persuasion. Even the slightest undue motivation should invalidate a guilty plea.

    Factors Considered in Your Argument to Withdraw a Plea 

    • Lacked capacity to make an informed and voluntary decision with regard to the plea and the waiver of rights 
    • Impaired by the fact that at the time of his hearing he/she had not eaten or slept for a substantial period of time
    • Had not had an opportunity to adequately confer with counsel
    • Had not received a copy of the Arrest and Booking Report with the stated allegations or any related DUI reports 
    • Was not informed of the exonerating or mitigating evidence contained in any reports 
    • Had not had a chance to confront any witnesses
    • Did not understand the legal issues presented in the video presentation
    • Was under duress for fear that his/her employment may be affected
    • Has no criminal record and therefore no experience in the criminal justice system

    If You Have Questions Regarding a DUI or Any Other Criminal Matter

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at  904-209-4883.

     

  • How can I Protect My Child Against Sexual Abuse?

    Internet security sign

    As a naturally suspicious person and father of two young boys, I have a hard time trusting anyone around my children. The stories are endless about the horrors that some kids endure at the hands of family, friends and those they are supposed to trust. I have begun my certification process to become a Guardian Ad Litem here in Jacksonville and in the process have been studying a lot more material. 

    The Child Welfare Information Gateway has an enormous amount of information regarding sexual and physical abuse of children. The below information was compiled on one of the tip sheets provided on their website. 

    What You Can Do To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

    It is important to keep the focus on adult responsibility while teaching children skills to help them protect themselves. Consider the following tips:

    • Take an active role in your children’s lives. Learn about their activities and people with whom they are involved. Stay alert for possible problems.
    • Watch for “grooming” behaviors in adults who spend time with your child. Warning signs may include frequently finding ways to be alone with your child, ignoring your child’s need for privacy (e.g., in the bathroom), or giving gifts or money for no particular occasion.
    • Ensure that organizations, groups, and teams that your children are involved with minimize one-on-one time between children and adults. Ask how staff and volunteers are screened and supervised.
    • Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything that bothers or confuses them.
    • Teach children accurate names of private body parts and the difference between touches that are “okay” and “not okay.”
    • Empower children to make decisions about their bodies by allowing them age-appropriate privacy and encouraging them to say “no” when they do not want to touch or be touched by others—even in nonsexual ways.
    • Teach children to take care of their own bodies (e.g., bathing or using the bathroom) so they do not have to rely on adults or older children for help.
    • Educate children about the difference between good secrets (such as birthday surprises) and bad secrets (those that make the child feel unsafe or uncomfortable).
    • Monitor children’s use of technology, including cell phones, social networking sites, and messaging. Review contact lists regularly and ask about any people you don’t recognize.
    • Trust your instincts! If you feel uneasy about leaving your child with someone, don’t do it. If you are concerned about possible sexual abuse, ask questions.
    • If your child tells you that he or she has been abused, stay calm, listen carefully, and never blame the child. Thank your child for telling you. Report the abuse right away.

    This tip sheet was created using information from Prevent Child Abuse America, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Enough Abuse Campaign, and Stop It Now. At https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resources/tip-sheets/, you can download this tip sheet and get more parenting tips, or call 800.394.3366.  

    If You or a Loved One Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse and You Have Questions

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.

  • What Are Some Signs of Child Sex Abuse?

    There are few things worse than the abuse of a child. As a parent, I'm of course protective of my children, but what about all the other children we come in contact with. Whether it be at school events, sports, work or just around the neighborhood. How can I help if I think something is wrong? What should I look for? The Child Welfare Information Gateway has an enormous amount of information regarding sexual and physical abuse of children and how to spot suspected abuse. They have compiled the list below. 

    If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect him or her and get help for the family. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Reporting your concerns is not making an accusation; rather, it is a request for an investigation and assessment to determine if help is needed. 

    Signs of Sexual Abuse 

    Signs in a Child: 

    • Has difficulty walking or sitting 
    • Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities 
    • Reports nightmares or bedwetting 
    • Experiences a sudden change in appetite 
    • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior 
    • Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14 
    • Runs away 
    • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver 
    • Attaches very quickly to strangers or new adults in their environment 

    Signs in parent or other adult caregiver: 

    • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
    • Is secretive and isolated 
    • Is jealous or controlling with family members

    How To Report Abuse in Jacksonville, Florida

    If you suspect abuse in Jacksonville, Florida, you can contact the Florida Department of Children and Families or call the the Florida Abuse Hotline 24 hours a day and 7 days a week at 1-800-962-2873 or fill out an online form

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

    If You or a Loved One Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse and You Have Questions

    Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.