Who is Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy & Why Did He Become a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?
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Who is Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy & Why Did He Become a Bicycle Accident Lawyer?


– Hi, it’s Jim Dodson,
the Florida Bike Guy, Welcome to our live stream. So who is Jim Dodson and
why is he a bike lawyer? It kind of occurred to
me the other day that, I spend a lot of time talking on a lot of topics here on our livestream. I was having a conversation
actually yesterday, with a client of mine
who’s a Navy SEAL retired, and he didn’t know I’d
been in the service. And I thought well, this
is kind of interesting, ’cause he knows, we’ve talked and he knows be up and representing him. So I thought I would just sort of give you the backstory on who I am, what drew me to what I’m doing now, and why I think we have a unique
voice for Florida cyclists in terms of helping and
representing after a crash. So you know, the backstory on me is that I’m a native Floridian,
grew up in Central Florida. Way before Disney World came
along when it was much quieter. My mom was born in the
same town I was born in, so we’ve got pretty deep roots in Florida. That was up in Sanford,
spent my early years making boats and going up
and down the St. Johns River, water skiing and doing all the things we did in Central Florida back in the day. And I, you know, obviously
graduate from high school, went to Florida State where I met my wife, and went on to go to law
school at Florida State. When I got through with law school, I had a commitment with ROTC
and we went on active duty with the Air Force, I spent four years, as a judge advocate, a JAG
officer in the Air Force. And then when we got out
we had sort of a decision to make whether we were going
to return to Florida or just sort of, you know, commit and stay on active duty with the Air Force. My brother was a career
Air Force officer pilot, but we made the decision
to come back to Florida, got a job at the State
Attorney’s Office in Clearwater and began as a young prosecutor. started out doing misdemeanor
cases as a little pup lawyer. Quickly kind of moved
up the chain to become part of the habitual
felony offender program, which was, back in that
day, kind of a novel thing. All we handled were the
most serious crimes, by the most serious felons and the idea was simply no rehabilitation,
but incarceration. It was a unique opportunity, one of the people on my
team, went on to become the United States Attorney for
Tampa in the Tampa division and I went over to work
with with Bob Merkel after I finished five and a half years
the State Attorney’s Office here locally, and then was
with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for several years, but I
was in the Civil Division. So I was, you know,
doing doing collections for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but the main thing that
we did that I enjoyed was I was defending the U.S. government in medical malpractice cases brought against military
doctors at the VA, or the various military
installations around the state We had many back then
which have now closed Patrick Air Force Base,
over in East Coast, we had Naval Training Center in Orlando, those who’ve gone, as well as Miguel and the things that are here currently. So I enjoyed that, we worked
very hard, kind of cut my teeth on civil cases doing
medical malpractice defense. But then I, you know,
graduated out of there, went to private practice with people that I had known from the
State Attorney’s Office here back in Clearwater, stayed there, became managing partner
of a firm with 13 lawyers. But I was looking for
something a little simpler, honestly, had a vision for what I wanted to do in our own practice. And I left and formed Jim Dodson
Law, that was 20 years ago, and had been really gratified
by the ability to help people that we’ve helped throughout
our years here representing injured clients and really,
in the last 10 years, focusing on our cycling cases. You know, I think that one
of the things that I wanted to have in a law firm
was, first off we were not gonna be a mass advertiser,
you know, we don’t do TV, radio and all the things that
attract a volume practice and what we have is people who
are referred to our practice, who know us come through
other lawyers who trusted us, and that was really how we built the basic basis for Jim Dodson law. We wanted to have a
relationship with our clients, we knew them, they knew
us, they trusted us and there was kind of accountability,
mutual accountability, they would stay on track
in terms of getting better, and we would do what we are
obligated to do to help a client recover not only financially
but physically to get back into their life and
enjoying what they enjoyed. You know, on a kind of on a personal note, I met my wife at Florida State, and we have been married since
then, we have two children. My daughter went out of state to school, went up to New York on an internship that she graduated college
and met her husband there, and kind of a cute story, she
was sitting in Central Park and he came over and asked
her for a piece of newspaper and they started dating,
obviously got married. They lived in Manhattan for five years, and they moved to
Charlotte for five years, and then San Francisco for 10 years. And fortunately for us, a
year and a half or so ago, they moved back to Tampa,
along with their four daughters now currently between
the age of four and 14. So we’re really blessed and
fortunate to have our daughter and her family in Tampa,
which is close to us, because for the 10 years
before that, she had been on the west coast in San
Francisco, my son and his wife were in L.A., my son went
out of state to school, UNC, went to medical school
at UCLA and stayed there, also has a PhD in molecular biology and is what that what is known
in that world as an MD PhD. They moved to Salt Lake
City about five years ago and he’s with Intermountain,
his wife is a dermatologist, she’s in private practice there so, and they’ve got two kids between five and seven, actually, so it’s it’s been very interesting. We love our grandkids. Of course, we see them
in the newsletter a lot, but you know, kind of on how I got into the whole cycling thing. My son and I were mountain bikers. When he was started in
college, we really began riding mountain bikes in earnest. He went to North Carolina,
we would ride up there, there’s some great mountain
biking parks up there near Brevard and we have,
you know, he went out west, we mountain biked in
Los Angeles, excuse me, in L.A., that area up
in Central California, went to Alaska on a mountain
biking trip one time, and we have continued,
he actually is currently a mountain biker in Salt Lake City they have mountains around the
city, he can leave his home, and be in the mountains
riding in just a few minutes and really enjoys that incident. It’s an elevation out there,
which kind of gives me some, takes the wind out of
my sails a little bit to start off at seven or 8000 feet, so our last trip was really
summer before last, we went to the North Rim of the Grand
Canyon on a mountain biking trip with a group and had a
great time, that was four days. The most difficult part for me, however, was starting out at 9500 feet,
which was kind of a challenge from the from the
standpoint of being winded. So in 2011, I ended up with
my first road bike and became you know, more serious
in terms of road biking. Mountain Biking is much less
a part of my life anymore. But I realized right away
that there was a real need in the road cycling
community for a trusted voice on the issues that are
unique to road cyclists. You know what, what I know
is that every advertising law firm advertises that
they do bicycle cases, but there’s a difference
between a doing a bicycle case and being a bicycle lawyer. There’s a difference between
understanding road position, there’s understanding the
mechanics of how crashes occur, understanding why someone
on a bicycle would ride in a particular place
at a particular time, whether they would be on the sidewalk or not on the sidewalk and now, all the things just come
with being out there doing the sport that we love so, we really began in earnest
to make my presence known in the cycling community,
for my goal of being a trusted voice for cyclists,
and I’m happy that you know, over the course of the last
years, we have developed a lot of resources which we share
with the cycling community, because I knew people simply
didn’t understand a lot issues about how to ride safely and
not the mechanics of calling out what have you, but what do
you need to wear to be seen? What kind of lighting
do you need to be seen? And if you’re on your bike,
what kind of insurance do you have to have, in order
to protect yourself against the 40% of the drivers in
Florida that really have no insurance that’s gonna help you at all? So we began to develop these
resources and communicate this message to the cycling community, and it’s really been well received. You know, I’m just gratified
that we have this presence because it is something
that, at the end of the day, I feel that we’ve helped people. A lot of people know who I am,
not because I’ve represented them, but because they have read something that I’ve published or
they’ve heard me speak, or they’ve learned something
about how to protect themselves or ride more safely from things
that we put on the airwaves or have talked to talk
to some group about, and that’s a really
positive feeling to have. The other thing is that working
with cyclists is a totally different experience as a as
an injury lawyer than working with what I would call
people who were, you know, been involved in a car
accident or something else. It’s just a totally different
mindset, in the sense that virtually every cyclist we work with is focused on, how quickly
can I get back on my bike and get back on the road? That is not the focus of so
many people who are injured who don’t have a passion
to return to the sport or to an activity that
they really are drawn to. And that’s a totally
different experience in terms of being a lawyer and
getting a result for a client and doing something
that’s meaningful to them. I think what I hear more often
than that about why people are so appreciative of the
work that we do is the sense that they can turn over
the issue to us and focus on what they need to do without
worrying about what to say to the next phone call that
comes in, or am I saying or doing something that
could be detrimental to to the case that I might have? And I think people are
commonly expressed that desire sort of to be at peace about it. And okay, Jim, I’m gonna turn this over and trust it to your team. We have assembled a really
unique group of people here at Jim Dodson law, and
I think that when people see me out in public, they
see me and have no idea what’s going on. A lot of people who deal
with our office know about Katie, Katie is that
wonderful, warm, energetic voice of welcome that you see it
like events and, you know, you talk to on the phone. Katie’s well known,
probably more well known than I am in some circles, but Katie is not my legal assistant. Katie does not handle
the legal work on cases, she is sort of our presence,
our voice, our face and what have you, everywhere we go, but I’ve been blessed to have, I’ve had one legal
assistant my entire career, she was the first one
that walked in the door when I had my first job, and
been fortunate to have Judy be involved with our firm ever since, and she’s unbelievable. She’s a big quintessential
type A personality, nothing gets missed. Clients who deal with her
know that and appreciate it. We affectionately call her lawyer aware, although she’s not a
lawyer, she’s done this work for so many years, she knows
clearly as much as I know in many areas of what
we do more than I know. There she is, and so we’re
really blessed to have Judy and she’s a total gift to our clients. We have Kathy, who’s a
friendly voice when you call the office, answers the phone. She is the one who’s gonna
take the initial call on so many occasions and get people kind of started in the
direction that we need to go. There we are with Kathy,
and we, several years ago, well, probably five or six
years ago, I began to work with a retired claims adjuster named Mark, who has worked with
lawyers across the state, since he retired as a major case guy from a traveler’s insurance company. And I talked to mark about 18 months ago, and we worked out a
deal where he would come in to work in our office
several days a week, so that I’d have access to him exclusively for the benefit of our clients. And so he brings a perspective
which is so helpful to our clients of understanding
what needs to be said, in communication to an insurance
company that most lawyers frankly don’t understand,
what is the letter they don’t wanna see, what’s
the letter they have to see? And really just kind of having
his 30 years of experience as a claims person, behind
the scenes being now working for my clients, our clients,
and Mark has a unique gift and we’re very appreciative
of his work as well. There are other people that
work here, I’ve got a lawyer, Jennifer, in Atlanta who does
research and writing for us. We have someone out of state
who does writing for us, but you never see that,
she does writing for us particularly on the internet
and some of the things we do. And we have another person, Cassie, who has worked with us
for almost nine years. Cassie is known as a big
affectionate dog lover, a magnificent painter of
animals, she commissions work for dogs and other animals,
kind of taking your pet and expressing their
personality through painting. But she does all of the
work in terms of laying out the newsletter, working
on the content of the website, so a lot of people, it’s a
little bit like an iceberg. You see the tip, but many
people don’t know the depth of the ice beneath the surface. And I just thought I’d
mention that to you. Oh, and Hannah. We are blessed to have Hannah. Hannah is a student at
USF and we have been having USF students come in
for a year or two as interns. Hannah definitely is a
star intern, she’s amazing. She’s gonna go to law school in the fall. Hannah is a great help to
us doing a lot of things, Some people see her deliver
bagels in the local community, and she’s going around, visit
some people that we have relationships with and she’s very helpful in all that we do. So I’m blessed to have an amazing team. It makes the work here
so much more pleasant, and it makes it a much more efficient and helpful environment for our clients. At the end of the day, that’s
what this is all about, is getting them past their
injury into a life that they want to live, and recovering. We have represented
cyclists across the state, from coast to coast, and
from every type of injury I think you can imagine practically, even up into those terrible cases where someone’s life is
taken on a cycling crash. You know, I think we write about some of the most common
injuries we run into. But you know, I think based,
when you have an emphasis in your practice like we do, you see the same things
over and over again, so you get an understanding
of various injuries, how they affect people and
how they can to recover, and more importantly,
how we need to relate that to an insurance company
in terms of describing the impact of an injury on someone’s life and trying to translate that into being recognized and taken seriously by claims adjuster in terms of
putting full value on a case. We clearly have the history
and the ability to try cases if we need to, but our
emphasis is honestly to try to get cases settled without that. Frankly, it saves our clients money, because attorneys fees can go
up when lawsuits are involved, and the costs definitely go up. So we have this balance
of trying to provide all this information to an insurance
company at an early stage to get cases settled
for full and fair value without necessarily having to
file a lawsuit in every case. So that’s sort of who Jim Dodson is and why I do what I do. I am so blessed to be able to
work with with great people and represent fantastic
clients across Florida. I want to be there for you
if you have been involved in a cycling crash, quite
frankly, in a motor vehicle crash, and you need us, you have
a question, you wonder if you have a claim, you
wonder if it’s something that can someone can help you with, simply call or fill out
a form on our website and I’ll be happy to give you an answer, because I think sometimes
having an answer, sometimes the answer is there
is no claim for some reason, and I’d be happy to tell
you that so you don’t waste your energy just
wondering about something that wouldn’t ever go anywhere. And that’s as helpful in
some situation as actually picking up, you know, working
with a client from start to finish, because I
think sometimes people will just need to know, and
it puts your mind at ease knowing whether there’s something can be done or not. Obviously where there’s a major injury, that’s a much more clear cut situation. So we’re here to help you. If we can help you after a crash, call us. It doesn’t matter where
you are in Florida. And we have an offer,
Katie’s running the trailer on the screen this morning
for our waterproof bike case, I always like to joke that these come with a lifetime warranty. You know, if this thing gets
lost or breaks or whatever, just call us, we’ll send you another one. Always tell you can put
away your sandwich bag and use our, what we call a
jersey pen or bike phone case, So that’s our story
from the Jim Dodson Law here on this Facebook Live program. I look forward to hearing from you or seeing you on the road. Take care, bye.

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