legal terms
 

Legal Dictionary:
Term: Adjudication
Definition: The final order, pronouncement or judgment of a court or other tribunal.

Term: Adjuster
Definition: An employee or agent of an insurance company who handles a casualty claim.

Term: Admission
Definition: A statement or confession by a party to a lawsuit acknowledging that certain facts which may be against his interests are true.

Term: Advocate
Definition: One who renders legal advice, assistance or argues on behalf of a party before a court or tribunal; a lawyer.

Term: Affidavit
Definition: A written statement or declaration made under oath before a notary or other person authorized to certify the statement.

Term: Affirmation
Definition: A declaration acknowledging that the person will tell the truth under penalty of perjury. Affirmations may be made by individuals who object to taking an oath on religious grounds.

Term: Affirmative Defense
Definition: A written defense to a lawsuit which does not formally deny certain allegations in a complaint, but asserts that the plaintiff is not entitled to judgment based upon legal or equitable principles, even if the allegations are true.

Term: Allegation
Definition: A statement or declaration of fact that a party expects to prove, generally set out in a pleading (complaint).

Term: Allege
Definition: To state, assert or declare.

Term: Amendment
Definition: A change or addition which improves or supplements another written document.

Term: Amicable
Definition: Friendly; mutually agreed to, as a settlement.

Term: Appraisal
Definition: A valuation of property by a disinterested party who is qualified to do so (appraiser).

Term: Arbitration
Definition: The process through which a controversy is submitted to an impartial person called an arbitrator, to resolve a dispute outside of the court system.

Term: Arbitration Clause
Definition: A provision in a contract providing for arbitration in lieu of a court action.

Term: Attest
Definition: To affirm to be true; to act as a witness by signing.

Term: Attorney
Definition: One licensed to practice law under state rules (admitted to the bar); an agent appointed to act in place of another; an advocate.

Term: Bad Faith
Definition: Willful or dishonest conduct in a situation where a party owes a financial or other duty to a third party.

Term: Brain Mapping Brain Electrical Mapping (BEAM) is a Version of EEG which permits computerized analysis of the brain’s electrical activity. BEAM actually creates a picture of the EEG results.

Term: Breach Of Contract
Definition: Failure, without legal excuse, to perform a duty required under a contract.

Term: Burden Of Proof
Definition: The duty of a moving party to establish an allegation or principal issue in a civil or criminal complaint, generally either by the greater weight of the evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.

Term: Carrier
Definition: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.

Term: Case Law
Definition: Reported court decisions forming the body of jurisprudence.

Term: Carrier
Definition: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.

Term: Case Law
Definition: Reported court decisions forming the body of jurisprudence.

Term: Cause Of Action
Definition: A claim which will support a valid lawsuit; the lawsuit itself.

Term: Certify
Definition: To make known or establish as a fact; to declare in writing.

Term: Chambers
Definition: A judge’s private office, where a hearing can be conducted.

Term: Check
Definition: A draft or order to pay money.

Term: Circumstantial Evidence
Definition: Indirect or secondary evidence through which a fact may be proved by inference.

Term: Civil Action
Definition: A lawsuit outside of the criminal justice system, seeking redress or an award of damage for a civil wrong.

Term: Civil Procedure
Definition: The rules that regulate practice before a civil court.

Term: Civil Rights
Definition: The right to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including such constitutional rights as free expression and religion, without discrimination in treatment by reason of race, color, sex, age, religion, previous condition of servitude or national origin.

Term: Claim
Definition: An asserted right to money, property or relief.

Term: Claimant
Definition: A party asserting or presenting a claim.

Term: Class Action
Definition: A lawsuit brought by a limited number of members on behalf of a larger group, all of whom share a common right or damage.

Term: Clause
Definition: A paragraph or subdivision of a legal document such as a contract.

Term: Clerk Of Court
Definition: An officer of the court who has clerical duties, including record keeping, filing and making certified copies.

Term: Code
Definition: A compilation or collection of laws and statutes.

Term: Comparative Negligence
Definition: The doctrine providing that any award for injury caused by a defendant is reduced proportionately by the plaintiff’s relative degree of negligence.

Term: Compensatory Damages
Definition: An award of monetary damages intended to compensate a plaintiff for economic and non-economic losses sustained as a result of another’s negligence, breach of contract or misfeasance.

Term: Competent
Definition: Having the ability to understand the nature and consequences of one’s actions.

Term: Complaint
Definition: The initial pleading filed in a lawsuit by the plaintiff setting out the facts upon which the claim is based.

Term: Conclusion Of Fact
Definition: The inference drawn by a jury or the decider of fact based upon the evidence.

Term: Confidential Communication
Definition: A communication not intended to be disclosed to third parties, as between a lawyer and client.

Term: Confidential Relationship
Definition: A fiduciary or other relationship which requires the utmost of good faith, and often, an understanding that communications between the parties are private.

Term: Consideration
Definition: Something of real value given in return for performance or the promise of performance, which induces a party to make an agreement or enter into a binding contract.

Term: Consolidate
Definition: To join together, as several lawsuits with identical parties or issues.

Term: Consortium
Definition: Affection, company and sexual relations between spouses.

Term: Contingency Fee
Definition: A fee paid to an attorney conditioned on a successful recovery in a negligence claim, based on a percentage of the recovery.

Term: Continuance
Definition: A temporary stay or postponement of a legal proceeding.

Term: Contributory Negligence
Definition: The doctrine under which one cannot recover for personal injury when one’s own negligence contributed to the cause of the injury. This doctrine has by and large been replaced with the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Term: Costs
Definition: Expenses incurred in the prosecution of a lawsuit, including filing fees, deposition expenses and witness fees.

Term: Counterclaim
Definition: A claim filed by the defendant against a plaintiff as part of defendant’s response to a lawsuit.

Term: Court
Definition: Subject to state or federal law, in distinction to limited or special jurisdiction courts which can hear only a defined class or type of case.

Term: Court Calendar
Definition: The schedule of cases pending before the court.

Term: Court Order
Definition: Any judgment or order of any court of appropriate jurisdiction.

Term: Court Reporter
Definition: Person certified to transcribe by shorthand or stenographic means any court proceeding or pre-trial matter.

Term: Credible
Definition: Worthy of belief.

Term: Cross-Claim
Definition: A lawsuit filed by one defendant in a lawsuit against another defendant in the same lawsuit.

Term: Cross-Examination
Definition: The questioning of a witness at trial or deposition by the adverse party.

Term: CT Scan
Definition: first introduced in 1973, CT Scans (Computed Tomography) and CAT Scans (Computed Axial Tomography) have rocketed in use and have evolved in capability and utilization.

During CT Scan, a series of x-ray beams pass through an area of the body and the extent to which the body tissues absorb the x-rays are thereupon measured. A computer transforms these measurements into two-dimensional anatomic “slices” of high-resolution quality.

One of the benefits of CT is the enhanced detail over regular x-rays. CT is able to depict portions of the body impossible to obtain by mere x-ray, and does so at ten to thirty times the detail of regular x-ray.

Other advantages of Computed Tomography include its cost effectiveness (when compared to MRI), and its ability to differentiate between soft tissue damage without regard to nearby structures on the image itself.

CT Scans are the diagnostic tools of choice for brain trauma due to their ability to capture collections of blood (hematoma), cerebral contusions (bruises), fractures, and edema (swelling).

As with x-ray, CT Scans are not limited for use in any one area of the body, but are used throughout.

Term: Damages
Definition: Monetary compensation awarded/awardable to a party injured as a result of a breach of contract or a negligent act; the injury sustained due to misfeasance, negligence or breach of contract.

Term: Default
Definition: Failure to pay or discharge a duty.

Term: Default Judgment
Definition: A judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond or otherwise appear in a lawsuit.

Term: Defendant
Definition: In a civil proceeding, the party being sued; in criminal proceedings, the accused.

Term: Deliberation
Definition: A process by which jurors reach a verdict; the act of weighing and examining evidence.

Term: Demand
Definition: Assert a legal right; claim.

Term: Demand Note
Definition: A written document evidencing indebtedness which is payable upon demand or presentation.

Term: Deponent
Definition: A witness who gives testimony under oath at a deposition; an affiant.

Term: Deposition
Definition: The giving of testimony and cross-examination of witnesses before trial. Ordinarily a deposition is stenographically transcribed and recorded for later use.

Term: Depreciation
Definition: A reduction in property value resulting from age or use.

Term: Determination
Definition: The final decision of a court.

Term: Discovery
Definition: Various pre-trial procedures including depositions, interrogatories and requests for production, whereby parties obtain evidence to be used at trial.

Term: Dismiss
Definition: To reject a claim or suit temporarily or permanently without further hearing or consideration through an order of dismissal.

Term: Docket
Definition: List of cases to be heard or tried; record book containing summaries of court action in any case.

Term: Dismissal With Prejudice
Definition: A dismissal of a claim on its merits leaving nothing more for determination by the court and having the force of a final judgment.

Term: EEG
Definition: an Electroencephalogram records electrical activity in the outer layer of the brain (the cerebral cortex), using electrodes placed on the patient’s scalp. Electrical impulses are then recorded as they move a pen or other writing device across graph paper. CT Scans have decreased the use of EEG over the past years, although EEG’s are still used as a diagnostic tool.

One area of continued use of EEG is in the monitoring of seizure disorders. Since an EEG detects abnormality in electrical activities, it is an effective tool in the diagnosis of seizures. EEG likewise can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of drug treatment on seizures.

EEG’s have also proved effective in the diagnosis of intracranial infection, and in certain surgical procedures, EEG is used to monitor the flow of blood to the brain.

Term: Endorsement
Definition: The signature on the back of a check or other negotiable instrument.

Term: Error
Definition: Mistake of law or fact forming the basis of an appeal to a higher court.

Term: Evidence
Definition: Any type of proof presented at trial which has the effect or tendency to affirm or disaffirm the existence of a fact. Evidence is the means by which some fact in question is established or disproved. Evidence includes oral testimony and every other known means available to establish the truth or falsity of a disputed question of fact.

Term: Ex Parte
Definition: An application or communication to the court without notice and outside the presence of an adverse party. Ex Parte communications are prohibited.

Term: Ex Post Facto
Definition: After the fact; a law passed after an act is performed which retroactively makes such act illegal. Such laws are prohibited under the U.S. Constitution.

Term: Execute
Definition: To complete a legal document, as by signing.

Term: Exemplary Damages
Definition: Punitive damages awarded to punish outrageous conduct, over and above compensatory damages.

Term: Exhibit
Definition: Tangible evidence, a display or document presented to the court or jury which tends to prove or explain some relevant fact.

Term: Expert Witness
Definition: Witness with specialized training or experience who is permitted to render opinion testimony in a legal proceeding.

Term: Factor
Definition: One entrusted with the possession of goods to be sold in the factor’s name. A factor is one who is in the business of receiving goods from a principal and selling them for a commission.

Term: Fault
Definition: Negligence; misconduct; deviation from standard of care.

Term: Fiduciary
Definition: A person in a position of confidence who has the duty to act responsibly with respect to another’s money or property; a trustee; one acting in a fiduciary capacity or relationship.

Term: Fiduciary Relationship
Definition: The relationship between parties where trust or confidence is reposed by one and accepted by the other; a confidential relationship whereby one trusts in and relies on another, e.g., parent and child, guardian and ward, husband and wife, physician and patient, attorney and client.

Term: First Amendment
Definition: A guarantee of freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, and free exercise of religion contained in the Bill of Rights.

Term: For Cause
Definition: With sufficient legal justification to perform an act.

Term: Good Faith
Definition: The general requirement to deal honestly with others and not seek to gain unfair advantage or to defraud another party, especially in the context of business transactions or contracts.

Term: Grace Period
Definition: The period during which insurance continues to be in force despite a delayed payment of premium.

Term: Grand Jury
Definition: A jury convened to hear evidence and determine whether an indictment (criminal charge) should be issued. Grand Juries have investigative and subpoena powers.

Term: Gross Negligence
Definition: A negligent act committed with a conscious indifference to the consequences thereof willfully or wantonly.

Term: Guarantor
Definition: A person or entity who agrees in writing to pay the indebtedness of another.

Term: Guardian
Definition: One who the law has entrusted with the custody and control of the person or property of a ward.

Term: Guardian Ad Lietem
Definition: One appointed by a court in which litigation is pending to represent a ward (e.g., a minor or incompetent).

Term: Habeas Corpus
Definition: A writ used in both criminal and civil proceedings to obtain the release of an individual in custody by testing the constitutionality of the incarceration.

Term: Hearsay
Definition: An out of court statement which is neither an admission or a declaration against interest. Hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in a judicial proceeding.

Term: Hearsay Rule
Definition: A rule of evidence which makes out of court statements used to prove the truth of the matter stated inadmissible. Hearsay evidence comes not from the personal knowledge of the witness, but from the repetition of what he has heard others say.

Term: Hidden Defect
Definition: A defect in property or goods which is not readily detectable, that causes injury to a third party.

Term: Hostile Witness
Definition: An adverse witness or opposing party who is known to offer prejudicial evidence as a result of such adverse interest or bias.

Term: Hung Jury
Definition: A jury that cannot reach a verdict due to an inability to reconcile their differences.

Term: Hypothetical Question
Definition: A combination of assumed or proved facts stated in a form that would allow an expert witness to give an opinion based on such facts.

Term: Immunity
Definition: Exemption from prosecution granted to a witness to compel answers to questions which otherwise could be withheld because of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

Term: Impleader
Definition: A procedure whereby a third party may be brought into a lawsuit by a defendant who is being sued by a plaintiff.

Term: Implied
Definition: Where the intention of the parties is not shown by direct terms but derived from surrounding circumstances or conduct.

Term: Incapacity
Definition: Lack of sufficient legal, physical or intellectual power to perform an act.

Term: Incompetency
Definition: The inability or incapacity at law to perform an act, such as giving testimony or making a will.

Term: Incumbrance
Definition: See Encumbrance.

Term: Indemnify
Definition: To insure a third party against loss; to agree to pay damages resulting from another’s actions.

Term: Indemnity
Definition: The right of a person who has discharged a duty which should have been discharged by another to collect reimbursement from the party who should have discharged the obligation.

Term: Indenture
Definition: A deed to which several persons are parties, in which each assumes corresponding obligations.

Term: Indispensable Party
Definition: One who has interest in the subject matter of litigation which is of such a nature that a final decree cannot be entered or rendered without such person being made a party to the lawsuit.

Term: Informed Consent
Definition: Consent given after full disclosure of constitutional and other legal rights which impact on whether consent would be given.

Term: Infringement
Definition: The unauthorized use, sale or manufacture of an invention, trademark, tradename or copyright.

Term: Injunction
Definition: An order or writ issuing from a court compelling a party to perform or refrain from performing certain acts.

Term: Inquest
Definition: An inquiry by a coroner into the manner of death in a possible homicide case; a tribunal selected to inquire into selected factual matters.

Term: Insurable Interest
Definition: A real and financial interest in property or the life of another sufficient to support and justify ownership of an insurance policy.

Term: Intangible Personal Property
Definition: Money, evidence of debt, evidence of ownership, and all other forms of property where the value is based upon that which the property represents other rather than its own intrinsic value (e.g., mortgages, shares of stock, bonds, notes).

Term: Intent
Definition: The state of mind necessary to support a criminal proceeding against a defendant; the knowing performance of an act.

Term: Interpleader
Definition: An action filed by a party faced by competing claims against property in his possession but which he does not own, requesting the court to determine relative rights to the property.

Term: Interrogatories
Definition: Written questions served on a party to a lawsuit to be answered under oath as part of pre-trial discovery.

Term: Ipso Facto
Definition: By virtue of the mere fact of itself.

Term: Irrelevant
Definition: Not material. Irrelevancy forms the basis of an objection to the introduction of evidence asserting that the proposed evidence is not connected to the issue being decided.

Term: Irreparable Injury
Definition: An injury of such a nature that it cannot be redressed in a court of law and is not susceptible to complete monetary compensation. Generally when a wrongful act has caused or will cause a irreparable injury, the courts will issue an injunction prohibiting the action.

Term: Irrevocable
Definition: That which cannot be revoked or undone.

Term: Issue
Definition: A point of controversy in a lawsuit; all persons descended from a common ancestor.

Term: Joinder
Definition: Combining several causes of action or parties in a single lawsuit.

Term: Jones Act
Definition: A federal law providing medical, disability and death benefits to sailors who suffer injuries in the course of their employment.

Term: Judge Advocate
Definition: An officer at a court-martial who may act as clerk, prosecutor and/or legal advisor to the court.

Term: Judgment
Definition: A final determination by a court; the official decision of the court.

Term: Jurisdiction
Definition: The power and authority of a court to hear and determine a case.

Term: Jurisprudence
Definition: The collective legal system including case law; the philosophy of law.

Term: Jurist
Definition: A legal scholar.

Term: Juror
Definition: A person selected to serve on a jury who has taken an oath to follow the law as enunciated by the judge.

Term: Jury
Definition: An impartial group summoned and sworn to decide disputed issues of facts at a trial.

Term: Latent Defect
Definition: A defect in a product or premises that is not readily observable or discoverable even with the exercise of ordinary care.

Term: Lay Witness
Definition: Any witness not testifying as an expert. Lay witnesses ordinarily cannot render an opinion as to the ultimate issue in the case and can only testify as to what they heard and saw.

Term: Leading Question
Definition: A question which suggests to the witness the expected answer. Leading questions are ordinarily improper and are objected to at trial.

Term: Letter Of Intent
Definition: A preliminary writing setting forth an understanding between parties. Letters of Intent ordinarily do not constitute binding agreements.

Term: Letters Rogatory
Definition: A request from one court to another in a different state requesting that a witness in such other state be directed to submit to a deposition or answer written questions under oath.

Term: Liability
Definition: The duty, obligation or responsibility arising by virtue of a contract or a tort (act of negligence).

Term: Libel
Definition: A false defamatory statement which is written or printed and published or communicated to others.

Term: Libel Per Se
Definition: A libelous statement which falsely accuses another of a crime, immoral conduct or professional misconduct. To recover damages under such circumstances, it is not necessary to show actual monetary loss.

Term: Limitations
Definition: See Statute of Limitations.

Term: Limited Liability
Definition: The limitation placed upon the amount a limited partner or corporate shareholder can lose by reason of lawsuits or claims filed against a corporation. Such losses are limited to the investment made.

Term: Litigation
Definition: A judicial proceeding in which the rights, duties and obligations of parties are determined.

Term: Long-Arm Statute
Definition: Law that allows residents of different states to be served with process and sued in the forum state by virtue of contacts with the forum state.

Term: Lump Sum Settlement
Definition: Arrangement whereby the entire amount of compensation due to an employee or injured party is paid at one time, often at a discount.

Term: Malicious Prosecution
Definition: A lawsuit filed without probable cause or justification in law, intended to harass a defendant.

Term: Malpractice
Definition: Negligence by a professional such as a doctor, lawyer or engineer in the performance of professional duties; professional misconduct.

Term: Mandamus
Definition: A writ or directive issued by a court to an official compelling the performance of the official’s duties.

Term: Mandate
Definition: A judicial command or order.

Term: Minority
Definition: The state of being a minor; infancy; one who has not reached the age of majority.

Term: Mistrial
Definition: A trial that has been terminated and voided due to a fundamental and prejudicial error occurring during the course of the proceeding, or because the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Term: Mitigating Circumstances
Definition: Extenuating circumstances that in justice and fairness may reduce the degree of damages or punishment. Mitigating circumstances do not constitute justification for a wrongful act.

Term: Monopoly
Definition: An association formed to directly or indirectly control a particular industry or trade in order to reduce or eliminate competition, generally in violation of anti-trust laws.

Term: Motion
Definition: An application to the court for an order.

Term: MRI Scans
Definition: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another type of sophisticated diagnostic imaging which examines body tissues by subjecting the atomic nuclei of the tissues through a magnetic field. The procedure is non-invasive and is thought to be safer than many other procedures.

MRI studies are extremely effective, and produce high-resolution images giving information as to the metabolic status of tissues and organs, as well as structural information regarding the body itself. The MRI picture is of such a good contrast that biochemical information about abnormal tissue can often times be derived.

MRI’s are especially effective in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, and other abnormalities involving tissues of the brain. Its use is not limited to the brain, and MRI’s are often used in order to diagnose problems with the spine, eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas, pelvic structures, temporomandibular joint, liver and spleen, pericardium, heart, and various joints.

Term: Negligence
Definition: Failure to exercise the degree of care ordinarily expected from a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances.

Term: Negligence Per Se
Definition: An error, omission, or act in violation of a rule of law or statute which is presumed to be proof of negligence.

Term: No-Fault Insurance
Definition: A type of automobile insurance often required by statute, whereby one’s own insurance company pays the medical bills or expenses incurred by their insured irrespective of fault.

Term: Nonsuit
Definition: A voluntary or involuntary termination of a lawsuit, by or against a plaintiff who is either unable to prove his case or proceed to trial. Often a nonsuit is the result of procedural errors in a case.

Term: Notary Public
Definition: A public officer who administers oaths, certifies documents, and performs certain other official acts, such as solemnizing a marriage.

Term: Objection
Definition: A request to the court to determine that a line of questioning, procedure, or evidence is improper and should not be received by the court.

Term: Obstruction Of Justice
Definition: The act or attempt to impede justice or a judicial proceeding, often by officials who have a duty to administer justice.

Term: Occupational Safety And Health Act (Osha)
Definition: A body of laws consisting of safety and health standards intended to prevent employees from being injured or contracting illnesses in the course of their employment.

Term: Of Counsel
Definition: An attorney assisting in the preparation or management of a case, but who is not the primary attorney of record.

Term: Offer
Definition: An expressed willingness to enter into a contract or to perform an act.

Term: Offer Of Proof
Definition: An offer of evidence that has been ruled by the court to be inadmissible made for the purpose of establishing an appellate record.

Term: Open Court
Definition: A court that is actively engaged in the administration of justice; before the judge.

Term: Opening Statement
Definition: Outline of anticipated proof delivered to the jury at the beginning of a trial.

Term: Operation Of Law
Definition: A right or entitlement arising under the law and not as a result of agreement.

Term: Opinion
Definition: The stated reason for a court’s judgment, finding or conclusion; the court’s decision or judgment.

Term: Option
Definition: A continuing offer to sell which must be accepted by the optionee within terms of the option, and if not accepted within the time specified, the right to do so is lost.

Term: Order
Definition: A directive from the court disposing of a matter collateral to the main action, or adjudicating the matter itself, in which case it is a “final order”.

Term: Order To Show Cause
Definition: A directive from the court instructing a party to appear before it and demonstrate why such party took or failed to take an action and why a penalty should not be assessed against such party.

Term: Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
Definition: Costs necessarily incurred to prosecute a civil case or to protect rights or property pending a court’s determination.

Term: Overrule
Definition: To find an objection raised to be invalid; to overturn or invalidate a prior decision or holding.

Term: Overt Act
Definition: An open, outward act which demonstrates intent or design.

Term: Pain And Suffering
Definition: An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff may be entitled if injured as the result of the wrongdoing of another.

Term: Paralegal
Definition: An individual trained to perform a variety of legal tasks but who is not authorized to practice law.

Term: Party
Definition: A plaintiff or defendant in a judicial proceeding; person or entity that has entered into a contract.

Term: Per Curiam
Definition: By the court.

Term: Per Se
Definition: Lat.: Through itself, i.e., not requiring external evidence to establish its existence.

Term: Perjury
Definition: The willful making of a false statement under oath which constitutes a criminal offense.

Term: Person
Definition: A natural or artificial being created under law, such as a corporation.

Term: Personal Property (Personalty)
Definition: Movable property not attached to realty; chattels.

Term: PET Scan
Definition: Positron Emission Tomography is a new test that studies brain function – not brain structure. It is the only test that can measure functions as opposed to tissue damage, changes in blood flow or other structural anomalies.

The patient is injected with minuscule positrons that make visual to a computer the brain’s function when it is using or failing to properly use glucose or sugar.

The patient is injected with positrons and then, after the positrons take effect, given glucose by intravenous drip. As the sugar reaches the brain, the scan measures normal from abnormal patterns of use.

When correlated with neuropsychological test results, PET becomes an effective demonstrative diagnostic tool that objectively defines abnormal brain function.

Term: Plaintiff
Definition: The party who initiates a lawsuit.

Term: Pleadings
Definition: The allegations contained in a complaint and answer; the complaint/answer or petition/response.

Term: Power of Attorney
Definition: A written instrument by which a principal appoints another to act as his or her agent and authorizes the agent to perform certain acts.

Term: Precedent
Definition: A rule of law established in earlier court decisions, that will generally be followed by other courts.

Term: Preponderance Of Evidence
Definition: The greater weight of the evidence; the general standard of proof required to prevail in a civil case.

Term: Prima Facie Case
Definition: A case in which sufficient evidence has been submitted to allow a jury or judge to make a final determination unless overcome and contradicted by other evidence.

Term: Principal
Definition: The employer or master of an employee or agent; one who authorizes another to act on his behalf.

Term: Privilege
Definition: A benefit or immunity conferred by law.

Term: Privileged Communication
Definition: A communication that is not admissible in evidence if made under circumstances in which the law recognizes a right of privacy, as between an attorney and a client.

Term: Procedure
Definition: The judicial process for the administration of cases before it; the rules governing such process.

Term: Proceeding
Definition: The various stages and events involved in a judicial proceeding.

Term: Process
Definition: A formal writ, most often a summons.

Term: Product Liability
Definition: An area of law dealing with the liability of manufacturers or sellers of goods that cause damage or injury to consumers.

Term: Property Settlement Agreement
Definition: An agreement setting forth an agreed division of property owned or acquired by spouses during their marriage; post-nuptial agreement.

Term: Proximate Cause
Definition: That which in natural sequence produces an injury.

Term: Punitive Damages
Definition: Damages awarded to punish a party who committed a wrongful act rather than to compensate an injured party for actual damages; exemplary damages.

Term: Quantum Meruit
Definition: The equitable value of the goods or services in question. The doctrine of quantum meruit allows a plaintiff to recover the reasonable value of goods or services provided to another who has derived a benefit and not paid for such benefit.

Term: Quash
Definition: To annul, void or vacate a prior judicial order or decision.

Term: Question Of Fact
Definition: A factual issue submitted to the jury or to the judge in a bench trial for determination.

Term: Question Of Law
Definition: A disputed legal issue presented for judicial determination.

Term: Quid Pro Quo
Definition: That which a party gives up in return for a benefit; the mutual consideration that is exchanged between parties to a contract and makes it binding

Term: Real Evidence
Definition: Tangible evidence produced at trial which is capable of being physically inspected.

Term: Real Property
Definition: Land, and whatever grows on or is affixed to it.

Term: Reasonable Care
Definition: That degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances.

Term: Reasonable Doubt
Definition: The degree of uncertainty that compels a juror to find a defendant not guilty in a criminal proceeding; a realistic uncertainty, even if remote.

Term: Reasonable Man (Person)
Definition: A hypothetical individual who exercises that degree of care, knowledge and judgment that society ordinarily requires of its members.

Term: Reasonable Time
Definition: That period of time which is ordinarily acceptable under the circumstances to respond or take some action.

Term: Rebuttal
Definition: Argument or evidence presented by an attorney in response to statements, claims, arguments, or evidence of an opposing party.

Term: Recess
Definition: A temporary adjournment or suspension of court proceedings.

Term: Record
Definition: A transcript, or papers transmitted from lower court to an appellate court upon which the appellate court decides the appeal.

Term: Recusal
Definition: The disqualification or voluntary withdrawal by a judge from a pending case due to the appearance of bias or lack of impartiality.

Term: Regulations
Definition: Rules and enactments of an administrative agency.

Term: Rehearing
Definition: A re-trial or reconsideration of a case or an issue by the court at the request of a party.

Term: Release
Definition: A written document evidencing the satisfaction of a debt; the giving up of some right, claim or interest.

Term: Relevancy
Definition: The test applied to the quality of evidence to determine whether it is competent to prove a fact in issue.

Term: Relief
Definition: Assistance or redress at the hands of the court.

Term: Remedy
Definition: Recourse at law to recover damages or enforce a legal right.

Term: Remittitur
Definition: The process or power of the court to reduce a jury verdict that is deemed to be excessive.

Term: Removal Of Case
Definition: The transfer of a case from one court to another, generally from state to federal court.

Term: Rendition
Definition: The filing of a signed, written order with the clerk of the court.

Term: Reply
Definition: A response to a pleading that has raised a new matter as a defense.

Term: Representative
Definition: One who acts for another with permission; an agent.

Term: Repudiation
Definition: An act or declaration which clearly indicates that a party will not perform an act that a contract requires be performed in the future.

Term: Res Ipsa Loquiter
Definition: Lat.: The thing speaks for itself. The Doctrine of Res Ipsa allows negligence to be inferred by virtue of the fact that an accident happened, e.g., a sponge found in the body of a patient after surgery.

Term: Res Judicata
Definition: Lat.: A thing decided. The doctrine stating that a matter that has already been judicially determined is conclusive and is not subject to re-litigation.

Term: Rescind
Definition: To cancel or nullify a contract, either mutually or unilaterally.

Term: Rescission
Definition: A judicial decree that cancels or annuls a contract; the termination of the contract by word or act of the parties.

Term: Retainer
Definition: An initial or advanced payment to an attorney for services to be performed; the act of employing an attorney.

Term: Return of Service
Definition: A writing made by an officer attesting to the fact that he/she served process (summons or subpoena) on a party, or that he/she was unable to do so.

Term: Review
Definition: A re-examination of decisions, orders and proceedings of an inferior court by an appellate court; reconsideration.

Term: Rider
Definition: An amendment or addition to a document or contract, especially an insurance contract.

Term: Right of Privacy
Definition: A generally accepted legal right to be let alone and live one’s life free from unwarranted publicity or intrusion. Disruption of the right of privacy may give rise to a cause of action or claim in tort.

Term: Right of Way
Definition: A right of crossing or passage over the land of another; the strip of land on which the right of way is located.

Term: Risk of Loss
Definition: A provision in a contract identifying the party who bears the risk of damage or destruction of property during its transfer from seller to buyer.

Term: Sanction
Definition: To order punishment or penalties for violation of a rule of law or procedure, or the penalty for such violation.

Term: Satisfaction
Definition: A document evidencing release or discharge of an obligation such as a mortgage.

Term: Sealing Of Records
Definition: The making of records unavailable to the public except by court order.

Term: Secured Transaction
Definition: Any transaction which is intended to create a security interest or lien in personal property or fixtures.

Term: Securities Acts
Definition: The various federal statutes that require full disclosure of material facts relevant to the offer or sale of stock.

Term: Security
Definition: Any note, stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation issued by a corporation indicating ownership; collateral.

Term: Security Agreement
Definition: An agreement which creates or provides for a security interest.

Term: Security Interest
Definition: An interest in real or personal property which secures or ensures payment of an obligation.

Term: Self-Incrimination
Definition: Statements by a defendant which would tend to admit guilt to a criminal offense. Under the Fifth Amendment, persons may refuse to answer questions or give testimony which would tend to subject them to criminal prosecution.

Term: Sequester Settlor
Definition: To protect a jury from outside influences or information; to take a thing which is the subject of a controversy and place it in the hands of a third party for protection. Person who establishes a trust.

Term: Service Mark
Definition: Any word, name, symbol, character, design, drawing or device used to identify services rendered and to distinguish them from services rendered or offered by others.]

Term: Sever
Definition: The separation of a case into two separate trials of a case where two or more defendants have been named in the same criminal indictment or information; the removal of one or more claims in a civil lawsuit so that such claims may be tried separately.

Term: Show Cause Order
Definition: An order issuing from the court requiring a party to appear and demonstrate why certain relief should or should not be granted.

Term: Side-Bar
Definition: An area of the courtroom out of the hearing range of the jury and witnesses, where the judge and attorneys can hold brief conferences.

Term: Small Claims Court
Definition: A court of limited jurisdiction that hears and tries claims involving lesser sums of money.

Term: Specific Performance
Definition: A remedy available to an injured party when the remedy at law is inadequate, whereby a defendant may be required to perform under the terms of a contract instead of paying money damages.

Term: SPECT
Definition: SPECT or Single Photon Emission Tomography produces a computerized image of the brain through utilization of radioactive isotopes. SPECT does not generally produce an image of the same quality as that produced by PET. Nonetheless, SPECT scanning can be an effective diagnostic tool.

Term: Speedy Trial
Definition: The rule of law arising under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution or under state constitutions mandating that a person accused of a crime be discharged in the event the prosecuting authorities fail to bring him/her to trial within certain specified periods of time.

Term: Standard Of Care
Definition: That which a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstances. Failure to comply with the standard of care will render a party liable for damages to an injured party.

Term: Standing
Definition: The right to present and prosecute a claim; standing is ordinarily dependent on having sustained a direct injury.

Term: Stare Decisis
Definition: The general rule that courts will abide with prior decisions and precedents and apply the same principles in every case.

Term: Statute
Definition: An act, code or rule enacted by the legislature and adopted as law.

Term: Statute Of Frauds
Definition: The requirement that certain types of contracts be in writing to be enforceable. Examples of such contracts include; contracts for the purchase or sale of land and agreements which by their terms cannot be performed within one year.

Term: Statute Of Limitations
Definition: A statute that fixes the time within which a lawsuit on a claim must be filed, and beyond which, it will be forever barred.

Term: Stay
Definition: A temporary suspension of legal proceedings by court order.

Term: Stipulation
Definition: A voluntary agreement on an issue of fact or procedure reached between parties in a lawsuit.

Term: Strict Liability
Definition: Liability that arises without the necessity of first showing fault or negligence. For example, many states impose strict liability on the owners of animals that cause damage or injury.

Term: Sua Sponte
Definition: An action by the court of its own volition, without a motion having been made by any party.

Term: Sub Judice
Definition: Under consideration by the court.

Term: Subordination Agreement
Definition: An agreement establishing the priority of payment of claims, whereby a creditor may agree that claims of other creditors are discharged before payment is made to the subordinated creditor.

Term: Subpoena
Definition: A writ issued by the court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding.

Term: Subrogation
Definition: The right of an innocent party who has paid benefits as a result of a third party’s wrongful action to recover such payments from the responsible party.

Term: Sui Juris
Definition: One who is competent and of the age of majority.

Term: Suit
Definition: Any judicial proceeding in which a remedy is sought.

Term: Summary Judgment
Definition: A judgment issued by the court before trial based upon a finding that there are no disputed issues of fact and that the applicable law compels a certain result.

Term: Summary Proceeding
Definition: An expedited proceeding under simplified rules, allowing the case to proceed to hearing quickly. Landlord-tenant matters are typically the subject of summary proceedings.

Term: Summation
Definition: The closing argument of the parties.

Term: Summons
Definition: A document issued by the clerk of the court requiring an appearance or answer to be filed by the defendant under penalty of having judgment entered or an arrest warrant issued.

Term: Supersedeas
Definition: A writ from a superior court suspending the power of a lower court to issue an execution upon a judgment issued by it.

Term: Supress
Definition: To exclude evidence based on a violation of constitutional rights, rule of law or procedure.

Term: Tangible Property
Definition: Property that may be felt or touched (as distinct from a debt or property right).

Term: Tender
Definition: An unconditional offer to pay or to perform a contractual obligation.

Term: Testate
Definition: Having a valid will.

Term: Testator/Testatrix
Definition: Male or female who makes or has a will.

Term: Testimony
Definition: Statement by a witness or a party made under oath in a legal proceeding or deposition.

Term: Third-Party Beneficiary
Definition: A person who receives an intended or incidental benefit by virtue of a contract to which he or she is not a party and for which he or she has paid no consideration.

Term: Time is of the Essence
Definition: A contract term that fixes the time of performance and establishes such time as being critical, so that failure to perform within such time will constitute a default.

Term: Tort
Definition: A private or civil wrong that results in an injury; a breach of the duty of care causing damage; a negligent act.

Term: Tortfeasor
Definition: One who commits a tort.

Term: Trade Name
Definition: The name under which a person does business, and which identifies the business.

Term: Trade Secret
Definition: Any formula, process, plan or mechanism developed and utilized in conjunction with one’s business which is kept private or secret in order to obtain an advantage over competitors.

Term: Trademark
Definition: Any mark, word, or design affixed to goods or products which authenticates them.

Term: Treble Damages
Definition: Damages established by statute, most commonly applicable to anti-trust violations, whereby the plaintiff receives an award of three times the amount of actual damages.

Term: Trespass
Definition: Wrongful interference with the use of the property of another.

Term: Trial Court
Definition: A court of original jurisdiction which hears and tries a lawsuit.

Term: Trust
Definition: An entity or method through which assets can be held for distribution to beneficiaries at a later date.

Term: Trustee
Definition: A duly authorized agent or fiduciary who holds title to property for the benefit of another person; the administrator of a trust.

Term: Ultra Vires
Definition: An action by a corporation that is beyond the scope of powers conferred by statute or authorized by corporate documents.

Term: Underwrite
Definition: To insure payment or satisfaction of an obligation; to insure life or property; to sell stock or bonds to the public and agree to buy any that are not sold.

Term: Undue Influence
Definition: That degree of influence or compulsion that destroys or eliminates another’s free will; any improper persuasion whereby the will of a person is overpowered inducing an action which otherwise would not have been taken.

Term: Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.)
Definition: A compilation of laws governing commercial transactions.

Term: United States Code
Definition: The official compilation of federal statutes.

Term: Unjust Enrichment
Definition: The doctrine that a person should not be allowed to gain or benefit improperly from the acts and efforts of another without compensation.

Term: Unliquidated
Definition: Not as yet determined as to amount.

Term: Usury
Definition: The wrongful charging of interest at a rate which exceeds that allowed by statute. Usury may constitute a crime under state law depending on the rate of interest charged.

Term: Vacate
Definition: To void or set aside a judgment or order.

Term: Variance
Definition: A modification of zoning ordinance regulations to permit the use of property in a manner otherwise forbidden, when such variance will not be contrary to the public interest.

Term: Venire
Definition: Process by which jurors are summoned to try a case; the jury panel.

Term: Venue
Definition: The place of trial; one of several places where a trial may properly be conducted.

Term: Verdict
Definition: The opinion and findings of a jury as reported to the court.

Term: Verification
Definition: An affidavit, oath or deposition attesting to the accuracy of a statement contained in a document.

Term: Vicarious Liability
Definition: Liability imposed on one person for the actions of another, as in the case of an employer who is vicariously liable for the acts of an employee performed in the course and scope of the employee’s duties. See also Master and Servant.

Term: View
Definition: An inspection of an object by the court or jury where the object or location viewed cannot conveniently be produced in court.

Term: Void
Definition: Having no legal force; null.

Term: Voidable
Definition: Capable of being rendered void or annulled.

Term: Voir Dire
Definition: The process of examination of prospective jurors by the court or attorneys to determine their qualification for jury service and to uncover any biases or conflicts of interest.

Term: Waiver
Definition: The voluntary and intentional surrender of a right or privilege.

Term: Ward
Definition: A person for whom a guardianship has been established.

Term: Warranty
Definition: A promise to perform, make good, repair or indemnify the promissee for a loss incurred in the event a represented fact proves to be untrue; a promise that a fact is true.

Term: Warranty Deed
Definition: A deed which warrants and guarantees that the title being transferred is free and clear of all encumbrances.

Term: Weight Of The Evidence
Definition: The balance of the greater amount of credible evidence.

Term: Whiplash Injury
Definition: A soft-tissue injury to the neck or back usually associated with rear-end automobile collisions.

Term: Will
Definition: A dispositive document prepared by or at the direction of a testator of sufficient testamentary capacity, indicating how property is to be disposed of as of the date of death.

Term: Willful
Definition: Intentional; intending the result which comes to pass.

Term: With Prejudice
Definition: A phrase used in orders of judgments indicating that an action or claim has been irrevocably dismissed and the only available remedy thereafter is an appeal.

Term: Work Product
Definition: Work done by an attorney in the course of his representation of a client that is privileged and cannot be obtained by an adverse party.

Term: Worker’s Compensation
Definition: Mandatory insurance under state law that pays medical and lost wage benefits to workers injured in the course and scope of their employment.

Term: Writ
Definition: The means by which a court compels acts to be performed, including such documents as an arrest warrant, garnishment and writs of attachment.

Term: Writ Of Assistance
Definition: A writ issued by a court in order to enforce its judgment or decree.

Term: Writ Of Execution
Definition: An order directed to a sheriff or other law enforcement officer to levy and execute upon the property of a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment.

Term: Writ of Prohibition
Definition: A writ issued by a Superior Court directing a judge, court or tribunal not to take an action that would be in excess of and beyond its jurisdiction.

Term: Wrongful Death Statute
Definition: A state statute defining and limiting the types of compensation recoverable by survivors of a decedent in an action resulting from another’s negligence.

Term: X-Ray
Definition: X-rays are electromagnetic waves. Unlike light waves, x-rays are stopped by solids or other dense radiopaque objects, including bone. X-rays pass through the body and exit from the opposite side where difference in density appear in shades of gray on x-ray film.

An x-ray is a useful diagnostic tool available for visualization of structures within the body. X-rays are limited, however, when compared to other sophisticated imaging now available. X-rays are an excellent starting point, however. The most frequent application for x-ray is the diagnosis of fractures and dislocations, certain tumors, tuberculosis, osteoarthritis, and other structural anomalies.

Skull x-rays may be used when the patient complains of headaches or other neurological symptoms.

An x-ray test is said to be “positive” if the x-ray film reveals an alteration in normal anatomical structure (fracture, etc.), an invasion by a new growth such as a tumor, or displacement of brain structures such as that caused by a subdural hematoma.

legal5.34
 

By John Cooper, Virginia Beach Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

About 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury every year in the United States, making this one of the most prevalent serious injuries we deal with as experienced Virginia Beach, VA brain injury accident attorneys.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are normally caused by a sudden trauma such as a blow to the head. Their effects can be devastating and can include impaired physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioral functioning.

See this video about traumatic brain injury.

A brain injury may be caused with or without a skull fracture. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50,000 people will die annually as a result of TBI in the United States. Brain injuries leave about 80,000 people a year with disabilities.

Car accidents and falls are a major cause of brain injuries. Motorcyclists are particularly susceptible. In recent years there has been an upsurge in awareness about brain injuries in sport. Falls resulting in a brain injury are most common in young children and the elderly. Brain injuries have become common among U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to the extent that TBI has been dubbed the “signature wound” of these conflicts.

As experienced Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys we are aware that brain injuries are often difficult to diagnose because they are seldom visible and their effects can vary widely. It’s important to hire an expert brain injury attorney because of the complexity of these cases. Awards are often high in brain injury cases because the effects of a TBI can be permanent, leaving the victim with lifelong care needs. A brain injury can place a severe financial burden on the family of the victim.

THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF BRAIN INJURIES

Brain injuries cover a wide spectrum from mild to severe. A mild brain injury can last just a short time. A serious brain injury can impact you for the rest of your life.

Long-term effects may include Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy or seizures, dementia blurred vision, emotional problems, aggression, post-traumatic dementia, Parkinson’s disease and issues with motor skills. A TBI may require the assistance of a medical professional round the clock. A mild brain injury is less severe but could lead to reduced memory loss and impairment of other motor functions.

TYPES OF TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Closed injuries – These occur when the skull violently and suddenly hits an object but the object does not break through the skull.

Penetrating injuries – When an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. A depressed skull fracture is cased when pieces fragments of the broken skull press into the tissue of the brain. These kinds of injuries are common from bullets.

Anoxia – this kind of injury is caused when there is an absence of oxygen to the brain’s tissues, even if there is adequate blood flow to the tissue.

Hypoxia – a reduction in oxygen supply rather than a complete absence of oxygen. This causes the brain to swell. Brain cells can die in a matter of minutes. This type of injury is often seen in heart attack patients of near-drowning victims.

BRAIN INJURIES IN AUTO ACCIDENTS

Motor vehicle accidents account for about 28 percent of traumatic brain injuries. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable. Helmets reduce the chance of suffering a head injury and cut the chances of a rider being killed by about 37 percent cent, our Virginia Beach motorcycle injury lawyers recently reported.

A recent study found up to 85 percent of bicycle-related head injuries could be prevented if bike riders wore protective helmets.

BRAIN INJURIES IN SPORTS

Brain injuries in sports account for about 20 percent of all brain injuries. An American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) study estimated 446,788 sports-related head injuries were treated at U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009.

Cerebral concussions are the most common types of injuries affecting athletes. A concussion results from shaking the brain within the skull and, if severe, can cause shearing injuries to nerve fibers and neurons. Greater awareness about the dangers of concussions in recent years has led sporting bodies, schools and state legislatures to tighten up the rules.

New rules recently brought in in Virginia say athletes, their parents and coaches must take concussion training course.

Repeated blows to the head are also linked to a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. The brain of Dave Duerson, the former Chicago bears football player who killed himself in 2011, showed some signs of this condition.

BRAIN INJURIES IN THE MILITARY

In 2009 the Pentagon estimated as many as 360,000 veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan may have suffered from a brain injury. “Among them are 45,000 to 90,000 veterans whose symptoms persist and warrant specialized care,” USA Today reported.

While fewer American troops died in combat in these conflicts than in previous wars such as Vietnam, the prevalence of blasts from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) mean 10 to 20 percent of troops are returning home having suffered at least a concussion.

If you or a family member, have suffered from a TBI you should contact an experienced Virginia head and brain injury lawyer.

DM

The Norfolk and Virginia Beach based personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles car, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as brain injury, wrongful death, railroad workers’ injuries (FELA) mesothelioma and medical malpractice. John Cooper and Jim Hurley have over 40 years of combined experience in handling auto injury accident claims. Attorney John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010 and has been a member since 2011 of the Multimillion dollar Advocates Roundtable. He has a license to practice law in North Carolina. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout VA, and north eastern North Carolina. We always put the best interests of our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us (757) 455 -0077. For a free consultation with a specialized Hampton Roads, Virginia and North Carolina (NC) personal injury lawyer contact us through this website.

===================
By John Cooper, Virginia Beach Serious Injury Lawyer

Fractures are common in car crashes and because of the speeds and the force of the impacts involved, the fractures are often more serious than in falls. Broken legs are often serious and can impact a victim’s life because they are load bearing.

Traction treatment has been used for serious leg fractures for decades

Serious fractures sustained in automobile wrecks are more likely to require surgery, and in some cases our experienced Virginia Beach car accident injury attorneys see multiple fractures requiring reconstructive surgery and crush injuries in which metal hardware may be needed to secure bones.

Because of the complicated nature of leg fractures it’s almost always worth contacting a Virginia (VA) serious injury lawyer. The victim may require intensive surgery or long periods of physical therapy. Insurance companies may seek to short change the victims in a settlement that fails to cover all costs.

Although a leg injury hopefully will not involve the same kind of long-term financial and physical costs as a traumatic brain injury or a spinal injury, fractures often do attract sizeable figures in settlements.

Serious broken bone injuries such as legs, pelvis and skull fractures can result in six figure settlements.

It’s usually fairly obvious if you have broken a bone in an accident. Symptoms include a misshapen limb or joint, swelling, intense pain and limited mobility.

If you suffer a fracture you should seek medical care immediately.

There are many bones in the leg. The femur is the single bone, also known as the thigh bone, in the upper leg. It requires a great deal of force to break a thighbone across its length and this fracture is often associated with potentially life-threatening injuries to other parts of the body.

The lower leg has two bones, the tibia and the fibula. The knee joins the thigh to the lower leg. There are many small bones in the ankle. The foot contains five bones called the metatarsal bones that join the ankles to the toes. The toes are formed by small bones called phalanges.

A sprain is a tear of the ligaments that hold the bones together. Severe sprains and fractures need surgery to repair. But in less severe case they may heal themselves.

A leg may need to be immobilized and kept in one position in a splint or a cast for a time to heal. In some cases this can mean a victim of a crash is unable to work and may lose out financially. A leg may need to be kept above heart level to decrease the risk of swelling. Patients who are not allowed to put weight on a leg will be given crutches. Muscles can be become smaller due to the lack of exercise in a period of immobilization. This is known as atrophy.

There are some dangers of side effects after a fracture. If a cast is fitted too tightly it can cause nerve damage, paralysis and a loss of sensation. Patients should inform their doctor of any feeling of numbness or tingling.

You could lose a limb if circulation is cut off to a leg. In rare cases blood clots can be dislodged from the leg and enter the lungs where they can prove to be fatal.

Tragically there are cases in which a broken leg has led to complications that have claimed a victim’s life.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported the case of Michael Guigliano who fractured his left leg when he fell 15 feet at work. He was admitted to a local hospital but developed fat embolism syndrome, a complication associated with orthopedic surgeries. His family claimed a series of mistakes at the hospital led Mr. Guigliano to leave the hospital as a severely brain damaged quadriplegic.

He died a few years later. The family sued the hospital and received an undisclosed sum.

TYPES OF LEG FRACTURE

Closed (simple) fractures – where the skin is intact

Open (compound) fractures – where bones that break the skin. These breaks carry a greater risk of infection.

Complete fracture – where bone fragments separate completely.

Incomplete fracture – where bone fragments are still partially joined.

Linear fracture – A break parallel to the bone’s long axis.

Oblique fracture – A fracture that is diagonal to a bone’s long axis.

Transverse fracture – A fracture at right angles to the bone’s long axis.

Spiral fracture – A break in which at least one part of a bone has been twisted.

Comminuted fracture – where a bone has broken into a number of pieces.

Impacted fracture – a break caused when bone fragments have smashed into each other.

DM

The Norfolk and Virginia Beach based personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles car, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as brain injury, wrongful death, railroad workers’ injuries (FELA) mesothelioma and medical malpractice. John Cooper and Jim Hurley have over 40 years of combined experience in handling auto injury accident claims. Attorney John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010 and has been a member since 2011 of the Multimillion dollar Advocates Roundtable. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout VA, and always put the best interests of our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us (757) 455 -0077. For a free consultation with a specialized Hampton Roads, Virginia personal injury lawyer contact us through this website

==================
The Scarlett Law Group are National Trial Lawyers based in San Francisco, California with outstanding results in cases involving airplane crashes, traumatic brain injury, head injury, personal injury, catastrophic personal injuries, mass torts, medical malpractice, professional negligence, class actions, civil rights, environmental disasters and wrongful death.

A Review of the Basis of Medical Responsibility

That a physician maintains a duty and thus an obligation to his/her patient is not a new concept. Writings on Medical Responsibility are traceable back over 4,000 years. The Code of Hammurabi, 2030 BC provided:

“If the doctor has treated a gentlemen with a lancet of bronze and has caused the gentleman to die, or has opened the an abscess of the eye for a gentleman with a bronze lancet, and has caused the loss of the gentleman’s eye, one shall cut off his hands.” [Smith Origin & History of Hebrew Law, (1931) 211, 212; Hughes v. State Board, (1926) 162 GA 246, 134 SE 42, 49.]

Note however, if the patient were a slave and the slave lost his life due to the wrongful conduct of the surgeon, then the penalty was furnishing the master with another slave. In those days, the duty to the patient had a direct relation to the social status. If the physician made a mistake, and a loss of life occurred, he paid a fixed penalty.

Later, the Egyptians tempered this rule. If the physician followed an established means of treatment for a disease, and an unfavorable result occurred, he was exonerated. But if he departed from the acceptable procedure and treatment, and the patient had ill results, then the doctor was found at fault, and the penalty could be severe.

While the “practice of medicine” dates from the days of Hippocrates (400 B.C.), we are unaware of any writings of that day that dealt with the physician’s conduct and responsibility in relation to his patient.

However, the Greeks must have had some recognition of a duty owed by the physician to his patient for Plutarch tells the story of Glaucus, a physician of Ephesus, who left a sick man, and went to the fields. In his absence the man died because of taking excessably of food. Alexander condemned the doctor to death for a breach of professional duty. [Charles Greene Cumston, Laws Governing Civil Malpractice in the Middle Ages, 15 Green Bag, 409 (1903).]

In the Roman Law, malpractice was a recognized wrong. When Roman Law expanded and was introduced into Continental Europe around 1200 A.D., a law for the regulation of the practice of medicine, including the control of drugs, was promulgated in 1240 by Emperor Fredrick II.

In 1532, during the reign of Charles V, a law was passed providing that the opinion of medical men should be formally taken in every case of violent death. Thus, there came to be developed standards by which to judge the knowledge and skill of a physician, who was to be held responsible, not only for intentional fault, but also for negligence in the practice of his skill.

After the Norman Conquest in 1066, came the development of the English Common Law, and during the reign of Richard Coeur de Lion, at the close of the 12th century, official records were kept in the Courts of Common Law and the Plea Rolls. From these records down to the present time, there is an unbroken line of decisions concerning medical malpractice.

One of the earliest recorded cases involving medical malpractice in the English Law was Everad v. Hopkins, (1615) 80 English Reports 1164. Sir Edward Coke decided an action against a physician for negligence. Plaintiff’s master had employed a physician to treat his servant. No contract was entered with the patient. However, it was found that “unwholesome medicine” had been employed, which caused the servant to become more ill. Lord Coke said that of course the master could maintain an action upon his contract, but the servant not being a party could not sue thereon. However, the opinion was stated that the servant, in his own right, could have an action on the case for the damages done by the treatment.

Thus, a legal obligation devolved upon the physician because of the universal demands put forward by society for its own protection. A review of the past legal history of medicine is important to understand the nature of the relationship of responsibility of the healer to his patient. Suffice it to say, since the first cases in which an individual prevailed against a doctor in court, the stigma for wrongdoing has attached to the doctor found culpable. This is one of the reasons that fellow-physicians were for so long unwilling to testify on behalf of those harmed by a fellow physician’s wrongful conduct. Indeed, to a certain extent, the “conspiracy of silence” still exists today.
=================
By Andrew Becker Daily Journal Staff (05-09-02)
http://www.smdailyjournal.com
A 30-year-old former stock trader who was pursuing a modeling career on the side is suing the plastic surgeon who performed a calf implant surgery that has left him barely able to walk.

When James DeVito sought out a plastic surgeon two years ago to insert silicone implants into his calves he just wanted more muscular looking legs. He was an international stock trader working in Tokyo and moonlighting as a model. However, he wasn’t seeing any results in his lower legs after years of working out in the gym.

Devito filed a malpractice lawsuit a little more than a year ago in San Mateo County Superior Court against Mills-Peninsula Medical Center and two area surgeons alleging negligence and fraud after post-surgery complications left him with virtually no calf muscles and unable to work.

A summary judgment hearing scheduled for May 10 has been moved to May 28 involving the hospital and Dr. Michael Norris, the surgeon who removed the implants from DeVito’s legs. A trial date for Aug. 19 has been set for Dr. Robert R. Brink, the plastic surgeon who inserted the silicone implants. A complaint has also been filed against Hanson Medical, Inc., the manufacturer of the implant that fell apart while taking it out.

DeVito, 30, was a global portfolio trader for Nikko Salomon Smith Barney when Brink performed the surgery on March 28, 2000. Since then, he has suffered from compartment syndrome, an affliction that can lead to tissue death, said his attorney, Randall Scarlett. Compartment syndrome happens when fluid build up causes pressure in the leg. Instead of swelling outward, the pressure and fluid swell in, cutting of blood supply to the leg. To alleviate this, the compartments must be cut open in a bilateral fasciatomy. No longer modeling, no longer in Japan, he now lives with his family on Staten Island in New York City.

After an emergency surgery to remove the implants the day after they were inserted, DeVito’s medical costs have grown to at least $1 million, Scarlett said. His health insurance did not cover treatment in the United States, he added. DeVito was between jobs at the time of the surgery, and he hasn’t worked since. He had just signed a contract with Merrill Lynch that would have paid him between $250,000 and $300,000 a year. Though he can walk now, DeVito is likely to be wheelchair bound for rest of his life, Scarlett said because of further deterioration to his legs.

“It’s a travesty,” Scarlett said. “This speaks toward this profession of plastic surgeons. They are not in a regulated environment, they operate in their offices. He’s in constant pain and under pain management therapy. His legs are deformed and scarred.”

DeVito had the hour-long surgery performed by Brink in his office at the Mid-Peninsula Plastic Surgery Center. After being released and once the anesthesia wore off, Scarlett said he suffered excruciating pain due to oversized implants. DeVito and Brink decided that an implant 19 cm long was the right size. However, DeVito alleges, the implant in his right leg was 22 cm., too large for his body and thus causing the compartment syndrome.

DeVito had no feeling in his toes and was urinating muscle tissue because of cell death in his legs.

He went back to Brink to have the implants removed the next day. As the complications mounted, DeVito was transported to Mills Peninsula Medical Center where Dr. Michael Norris removed the remaining implants. But, as the lawsuit alleges, neither Brink nor Norris disclosed the potential detriment to DeVito. After moving to California Pacific Medical Clinic for additional treatment, DeVito spent the next two weeks in the hospital, lucky to still have his legs.

The physicians deny any wrongdoing. Brink, who has been performing the procedure for approximately 15 years, said calf implants are not common, mostly because people aren’t aware of them. The roughly 20-year-old operation is fairly standard and much like breast augmentation surgery, except calf implants use solid silicone of varying firmness instead of gel-filled implants. Brink said he sees an equal amount of men and women seeking the surgery. Most people who elect to have their calves augmented do it to correct bow-leggedness or because they cannot build muscle mass in their lower legs.

People who receive the implants are advised to avoid sports that have a lot of contact or impact, like football or basketball. Running speeds are also decreased. The procedure can cost as much as $6,000.

Complications can occur with positional problems and adjustments and pain is common for a few days after the surgery. But, Scarlett said, this was beyond reason.

“None of the risks of the procedures were outlined to him,” he said. “[DeVito] believed the surgery to be an in-and-out kind of cosmetic enhancement. This has shattered this man’s life.”
====================
The Scarlett Law Group are National Trial Lawyers based in San Francisco, California with outstanding results in cases involving airplane crashes, traumatic brain injury, head injury, personal injury, catastrophic personal injuries, mass torts, medical malpractice, professional negligence, class actions, civil rights, environmental disasters and wrongful death.

Economic Losses in TBI Cases:

If you or a family member has sustained a traumatic brain injury, the chances are you already have first hand experience of the overwhelming financial burden that these injuries cause.

The following two case scenarios demonstrate damages sustained in a so-called “mild” traumatic brain injury case, as well as a “moderate” to “severe” traumatic brain injury case.

Case No. 1:

A seventeen-year-old young lady is driving home from her evening class at a local college when a car operated by another individual swerves across the center divider and hits her straight on. She is evacuated by helicopter to the closest trauma hospital whereupon a craniotomy is performed in order to release the pressure resulting from multiple subdural hematomas. Additionally, as a result of spinal cord injury, the young lady is rendered quadriplegic. The catastrophic injuries are apparent to all. The victim’s brain damage renders her a functional five-year-old in mental development. She is fed through a gastrostomy, and will require attendant care the rest of her life.

Case No. 2:

A forty-two-year-old working mother of three is stopped before a crosswalk allowing an elderly pedestrian to cross the street with her walker when her car is suddenly and unexpectedly rear-ended. She keeps her foot on the brake in order her vehicle is not pushed into the crosswalk thereby striking the pedestrian. The force of impact appears to have been fairly minor. There is approximately $1,200 damage done to her car. She does not lose consciousness. Other than a diagnosed cervical “strain”, CT scans and other neurologic testing are without adverse finding. Within several months, however, thevictim’s family notices a marked change. She expressed difficulty with attention and concentration and ultimately loses her job. Her life spirals in denial, confusion and discomposure. Finally, a treating health care provider concedes that she sustained a so-called “mild” traumatic brain injury.

The above two case scenarios are a mixture of facts involved in actual cases brought within the court system in the State of California. The effects of brain injury were profound on both victims, although due to the extent of those injuries, their damages were somewhat different.

In a case involving catastrophic injury, the failure to obtain adequate compensation will deprive the victim of the very funds he/she may need in order to survive. Often times, and especially where the victim’s injury dictates on-going medical care, the future economic loss may be staggering.

Contrast the catastrophic injury case with a “mild” TBI case. Often overlooked or misunderstood, a case involving so-called “mild” traumatic brain injury, with corresponding cognitive deficits, will cause a devastating impact on the vocational abilities of the victim, not to mention the impairment to quality of life.

Perplexity and distractibility are among the most common problems associated with brain injury. Any cognitive deficit, including impairment to attention and concentration, will have a devastating impact on an individual’s ability to work and perform properly on the job. Necessarily, the quality of life is deeply affected.

Areas of financial responsibility will generally fall into the following categories: (1) past, present and future medical bills; and (2) past, present and future lost wages and earning capacity. Obviously, the victim has also sustained compensable damages relating to pain and suffering and emotional distress, although those damages are not discussed herein.

(a) Past, Present, Future Medical Expense. The good news is that even if you are without insurance, when you are transported from an accident scene, or place of injury, to a trauma facility, you will not be turned away. Even comatose individuals without insurance will initially be treated by a trauma facility. However, the length of treatment, quality of treatment and treatment options may be curtailed in individuals without appropriate coverage.

If another person’s negligent or intentional acts cause the infliction of traumatic brain injury, there is no reason why that individual should not be held responsible for payment of your medical expenses. After all, if your own insurance is not sufficient to cover the losses, then the taxpayers will be left with the burden of funding whatever treatment you receive. The allocation of financial burden between the taxpayers and a negligent or intentionally wrongful actor should be an easy decision.

To give you an idea of the staggering health care costs involved in a typical catastrophic case, once again turn to Case Scenario No. 1, above. In a 1995 case, proceeding to trial in California, the health care costs of a spastic quadriplegic brain injured young lady were estimated at $106,000 per year through age 45 and then, when her parents die the costs were estimated to increase to $303,000 per year. The total future lifetime costs, assuming a below historically based medical inflation rate of 5%, is over $166,000,000. When reduced to present cash value (using a historic U.S. Government bond rate), the cost is still $14,000,000.

Obviously medical expenses incurred in the “mild” traumatic brain injury case are considerably less. Life care plans developed for victims of “mild” traumatic brain injury do not typically include ongoing orthopedic care, ongoing neurologic care, round the clock therapist care, and other expenses more commonly required in the catastrophic case. However, emergency room bills were likely incurred, and they are never cheap. Radiological studies, including CT scans or MRI may have been ordered. If properly followed, a neuropsychological assessment has been incurred, and rehabilitative training follows. With today’s health care costs, the price tag for such treatment is not inexpensive.

(b) Past, Present, Future Lost Wages/Impairment to Earning Capacity. In a catastrophic injury case, the victim may never be able to hold a job again. Where the victim is an adult parent, children and other dependents are left without any meaningful source of support. Obviously, a life is shattered. The loss represents the entire earning capacity of that adult from the time of injury through his/her work life expectancy. Often times this amounts to over a million dollars even when relegated to present value.

In a case involving “mild” traumatic brain injury, earning capacity is also dramatically impaired. Virtually all tasks performed in the vocational setting require concentration and attention. Where a victim of mild traumatic brain injury has incurred attention and concentration deficits, job performance is adversely affected or outright prohibited. In many instances, the victim will require complete vocational rehabilitation training. Simply put, the victim will be unable to return to his/her former line of work. Obviously, chances for job advancement are greatly curtailed.

(c) The Lawyers’ Role in Presenting Damages. In the litigation arena, it is your lawyer’s job to present your damages in order you be compensated for your injuries. In the catastrophic case, the presentation of such damage figures becomes an art unto itself. Jury alienation is always a concern, even where such damage figures are reduced to present value.

In the “mild” TBI case, the jury must be made to understand that the cognitive deficits affecting this outwardly-appearing “normal” human being will have a devastating impact on that individual’s ability to work and perform properly on the job.

In most instances, in addition to the testimony of treating physicians, life care plan specialists, vocational rehabilitation specialists, and forensic economists will be employed. By using these specialists, a jury is given the entire “needs” framework of the traumatic brain injury victim. The care given in the past, and the reason for that care is explained. Future care needs are likewise explained and all care costs are quantified and relegated to present value. Similarly, earning capacity is explained and mitigating income is taken into account. In all, the jury is left with a thorough understanding of the severity of economic needs of a victim with traumatic brain injury.
=======================
The Scarlett Law Group are National Trial Lawyers based in San Francisco, California with outstanding results in cases involving airplane crashes, traumatic brain injury, head injury, personal injury, catastrophic personal injuries, mass torts, medical malpractice, professional negligence, class actions, civil rights, environmental disasters and wrongful death.

Choosing a TBI Lawyer: The Scarlett Law Group

Few of us realize how pervasive the law is in our lives until we get into a dispute with someone else. Then we are amazed to discover what a tangled web of law there is, and how complex and endless the rules seem.

The threshold question in many situations involving the law is whether you can “do it yourself” or whether you need a lawyer to advise you on your rights or handle the matter for you completely.

While many “minor” disputes can adequately be handled without need of a lawyer – using Small Claims Court or Alternative Dispute Resolution – if you, a friend, or loved one sustained a catastrophic personal injury such as a traumatic brain injury, there can be no question but that you are in need of the services of a competent lawyer.

Unfortunately, we live in a day and time where millions of dollars have been spent persuading the general public (prospective jurors) that should an injured victim exercise their fundamental constitutional right by bringing suit, that individual is merely adding to an already “sue happy” society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Where a lawsuit is not pursued, unless the injured victim is independently wealthy, the taxpayers will bear the brunt of financial responsibility. Indeed, in catastrophic cases the victim may end up institutionalized unless sufficient funds are secured in order to meet the victim’s medical and support needs.

Complicating matters further, many victims of traumatic brain injury, especially mild traumatic brain injury, are in a state of denial regarding the profound impact of the injury itself. While victims of “mild” TBI have not sustained the “catastrophic” injuries, which may cause an individual to be institutionalized, they have nonetheless sustained injuries which will have a significant impact on their vocational capabilities. In denial, job after job is lost.

Combining denial with the current disfavor regarding lawsuits may very well prove to be a recipe for disaster for the injured individual. Only a lawyer can assess the “legal health” of the injured victim – by investigating the facts, researching the latest developments in the law, applying his or her legal training and experience, and then advising the victim of his/her alternatives. A good lawyer can spot the “jagged rocks” that may lie below the waters of a seemingly simple dispute and can help the victim plan a course of action to avoid them.

The sad truth is, however, that all lawyers are not created equal. It is a very sad fact of traumatic brain injury life that many survivors will not receive adequate recompense for their injury because their lawyer did not have enough experience to know how to analyze, prepare and present a legitimate claim for damages. Many times, the blame is directly traceable to the attorney who is not forthright in the first place regarding his/her lack of experience handling cases involving traumatic brain injury. Time after time the inadequate result rests with the attorney who did not understand the seriousness of the injury simply because of its “invisible” nature.

Unfortunately, even where an injured victim has overcome denial, and has further overcome the social stigmas associated with bringing a lawsuit, s/he may nonetheless experience further “hurt” due to an association with a lawyer having no idea how to properly present claims involving traumatic brain injury. BEWARE: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND EXPERIENCE VARIES BETWEEN LAWYERS.

At the Scarlett Law Group, we represent injured victims on a contingent fee arrangement. This means that we do not receive any fee or payment unless money is recovered on behalf of the injured person, and then the attorney fee is paid as a percentage of the amount recovered.[Contingent Fee].

What this means is that you have the absolute ability to hire the most qualified attorney specializing in representing individuals sustaining traumatic brain injury. Through the use of the Contingent Fee Agreement, and given that there are excellent attorneys around the United States willing to advance the expenses in connection with the prosecution of a TBI case, injured victims have the ability to hire the most qualified attorneys and need not settle for or accept inexperienced attorneys to handle their cases.

Through the contingency fee, you have the ability to hire a qualified attorney in a crucial situation, and you need not pay that attorney unless they successfully perform. This is a powerful position to be in. Do not underestimate your position. After all, the results of your lawsuit will have an important and long-term impact on your quality of life. Just as you would not rush to purchase any item of consumer goods, nor should you hastily choose a lawyer to represent you.

We at the Scarlett Law Group are committed to handling claims of individuals sustaining traumatic brain injury. We are committed to spending the time with you and your family members to gain a deep understanding for each and every way the injury has affected your life. We are committed to spend the necessary time in order you understand your rights in the progress of your case. Our staff is committed to trying to make your life easier, and we will endeavor to put you in contact with support groups and treating doctors as your case may require.

Given the importance of your choice of counsel, you should be prepared to meaningfully question prospective lawyers in order to ascertain his or her qualifications to handle your case. For example, you should determine how many TBI cases that lawyer has been involved in as principal attorney during the last three to five years. You should determine what percentage of the lawyer’s practice is devoted to cases involving TBI. You should not hesitate to inquire of the settlements/verdicts obtained by the lawyer on TBI cases. (This should be done with a recognition that every case is different.)

You want to make sure that the lawyer is current. In this regard, ask the lawyer how many seminars or conferences s/he has attended over the past several years involving TBI issues. Review that lawyer’s website, or ask the lawyer to provide you with any articles written over the past three years involving any aspect of TBI.

You are about to embark on one of the most important decisions of your life, to wit: The choice of the right lawyer to represent you. You are armed with a powerful tool, the Contingency Fee Agreement. This Agreement allows you to retain experienced counsel without having to pay hundreds of dollars per hour up front. Please, do not make your decision cavalierly. Ensure that you are comfortable with the counsel of your choice. Ensure that counsel has the confidence and experience to properly handle your case. The path is a difficult one, and the choice of counsel can make all the difference in the world.
====================

Why Should I Hire Southern California Lawyers as my attorneys?
Because we believe in what we do and what we do makes a difference in the lives of our clients and in the world in general. We are committed to our community and are familiar with it’s courts and judges. As long time residents and business owners in Southern California, we are dedicated to assisting our neighbors and associates.

We are concerned for our client’s well being — this is why we have chosen to work for plaintiffs (the injured parties) and plaintiffs only. We don’t and never have represented insurance companies or corporations. We only represent people who have been injured or taken advantage of by insurance companies or both. We are concerned that our clients receive the medical care they deserve and recover physically from their injuries, as well as recover emotionally and economically. We care enough to tell our clients the truth about what we can and cannot do to help them. We care enough to devote ourselves fully to each client’s case. We know the law and know how to use it for our clients’ best interests.

We understand what the law should be. Our advocacy before California’s Appeals Court and Supreme Court has resulted in the California’s Supreme Court adopting our views in procedural matters in personal injury lawsuits and making our opinions the law of the land. In the same way that we convinced the California Supreme Court to adopt our views, we know how to convince a claims adjuster about the benefits to the insurance company of the settlement we propose. We obtain meaningful and sometimes unimaginable monetary recoveries for our clients, with a minimum of wasted time, effort, stress and worry.

What our staff members say:
“I recommend that injured people hire us to represent them because we are committed to providing them with the best outcome of their case.” – Colleen Cadogan

“We give the advice clients need for their lives, not their case and fight hard to carry out the decisions our clients make about the matters we are hired to accomplish.” – Edward Spilsbury

“We are a very dependable and professional law firm. We know how to handle business.” – Nora Zamarripa

“I recommend people to hire us because we are responsible, work as a team, we care about people and most important of all we know what we are doing.” – Marta I. De la Torre

If you are looking for a committed, resourceful and compassionate Southern California law firm to advise you and representatives to help you hold a responsible person or company accountable for your injuries, you should choose Southern California Lawyers – Bisnar | Chase as your personal injury attorneys.

What should I expect a Southern California personal injury attorney to do for me?
You should expect your Southern California personal injury lawyer to be an educator, an advisor, a communicator, a representative and an advocate – your lawyer should be your “Champion”.

Your lawyer should educate you about your rights, the legal basis of your claim and the damages you are able to recover.

Your attorney should advise you throughout the process of recovery (physically, emotionally and economically) as to what to expect and how to best care for yourself throughout the recovery process.

Your attorney should be an effective and honest representative for you. After all, he/she is your voice in your dealings with the defendants and their representatives.

Your attorney should be an effective advocate in the pursuit of your rights.

Your attorney should be your “Champion”, your “David”, your “Robin Hood”, educating, advising, advocating and fighting for you and your rights. Someone you are proud of.

Why should I hire a Southern California attorney to assist me in resolving my personal injury claim?
Hiring an experienced Southern California lawyer can result in a higher net recovery to you for your damages, an experienced guide on your side and relief from worry. An insurance industry research institution studied personal injury claims processed by the injured person alone, verses personal injury claims handled by attorneys. They determined that those people represented by attorneys had a higher net recovery to themselves (more money in their pocket after attorney’s fees and costs) than those without attorneys.

An experienced Southern California personal injury lawyer provides you the advantage of a skilled professional who will provide you the benefit of his experience and insight to equal the playing field when dealing with insurance companies and the major corporations of the world. Hiring a personal injury attorney allows you to focus on your recovery from your injuries while your attorney focuses on holding the responsible person accountable for your injuries.

How does your law firm charge attorneys fees?
Southern California Lawyers only works on a contingency fee – meaning that if we do not win, we do not get paid. Injury victims cannot afford to pay an attorney by the hour. Our contingency fee is in line with other top-quality lawyers who handle serious personal injury matters. There are no up front costs or fees with us.

Who is going to pay up front for all of the costs and expenses of my case?
Costs must be advanced during the case to hire experts, conduct discovery and prepare for trial. Southern California Lawyers advances all costs – this provision is clearly stated in our retainer agreement. The client is responsible for reimbursing the costs when the case settles. If we don’t recover money for you, you will owe nothing.

What happens if we lose the case?
If Southern California Lawyers fails to recover monetary damages for you, you are not responsible for any fees or costs to litigate the case.

We Achieve Results.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT OR AS THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, YOU NEED THE ADVICE OF AN EXPERIENCED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY.

==========================================
You’ve experienced personal injury, and now you’re ready to hold the negligent party responsible for your damages accountable. The next step is to arm yourself with a competent, capable and experienced personal injury attorney. But what should you know before you hire a lawyer?

Know why it’s important: The right attorney can make the difference between a successful personal injury lawsuit and an expensive fishing expedition. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you’re creating an important relationship designed to protect your personal rights. Don’t make your decision lightly.

Know what kind of attorney you need: The type and location of your accident will help you find the right lawyer. Are you filing a wrongful death lawsuit? Litigating against a negligent employer? Fighting for justice in an automobile accident? All of these different types of personal injury result in different kinds of cases and legal strategies. Seek a lawyer who has specific experience in the field of litigation you need.

Know what you want to recover: Are you seeking millions of dollars, or just assistance in a few court filings? Do you need complex litigation assistance or just help with insurance company negotiations? The size, complexity, and dollar amounts involved in your personal injury lawsuit can help you narrow the field. You want an attorney who takes on cases in your dollar range and who has experience handling cases like yours.

Know the basics: If you’re struggling with personal injury, it’s likely that your funds are tied up in medical bills and making ends meet. Look for a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis ­ this means that their payment is contingent upon your recovering dollars in your lawsuit. In short: contingency-based lawyers don’t get paid until you win. That means that they provide all costs and fees up-front and that they are highly motivated to fight and win your personal injury lawsuit.

Know what to avoid: Random referrals, geographic proximity, and high fees are all red flags when it comes to finding the right personal injury attorney. Don’t rely on a friend or family member or an arbitrary search through the Yellow pages. Instead, look for an attorney who’s the right fit for you and your case.

Know what to ask: When you speak with a potential personal injury lawyer, have a list of questions prepared in advance. Be prepared to ask extensive questions about their background, experience, past wins and losses, length of practice, policies and procedures, and payment structure before signing any kind of agreement.

The lawyers at BISNAR | CHASE have been providing high-quality contingency-based representation to victims of personal injury since 1978. Our track record is solid, and our office is equipped to handle complex personal injury claims in a variety of fields. Interested in a free, no-obligation consultation? Call today for more information.

* Martindale-Hubbell has been rating lawyers for over 100 years. It is by far the most widely recognized of all ratings of lawyers. There are two categories of ratings, “Legal Ability Ratings” and “General Ethical Standards Rating”. The “Legal Ability Ratings” are: “C” (from Good to High), “B” (from High to Verey High), and “A” (from Very High to Preeminent). The “General Ethical Standards Rating” is: “V” (Very High).

We Achieve Results.

IF YOU HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT OR AS THE RESULT OF NEGLIGENCE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, YOU NEED THE ADVICE OF AN EXPERIENCED SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY.

================================================
If you are one of the
2 million people injuredin a traffic accident this year, or one of the quarter million injured in
other traffic related accidentsyou are probably here looking for a great personal injury attorney. You probably want an attorney to obtain compensation for your losses and to bring a sense of justice to your situation. You probably want your law firm to treat you well and make the process as smooth and stress free as possible.

We estimate that 1.5 million people will be injured in auto accidents, 100,000 in motorcycle accidents, 850,000 in light truck accidents, 60,000 in pedestrian accidents 40,000 in bicycle accidents, 27,000 in large truck accidents, and 10,000 in bus accidents – in the U.S. this year alone. So you are not alone in looking for a personal injury attorney. And there are thousands of personal injury attorneys in California to choose from.

So how do you find the right attorney? How do you judge one lawyer or law firm over another? Aren’t they all claiming to be the best?

At Bisnar & Chase we could dazzle you with our millions in recoveries, our distinguished resumes, our awards and our accolades. What we will dazzle you with is the best level of care and attentiveness in our industry. You’ll feel like a guest at the Ritz Carlton. We call it the “BC Client Experience”! We will dazzle you from your first call, right through to the day you receive your compensation check. And we guarantee it.

If staying at Motel 6 costs the same as staying at the Ritz Carlton, where you going to stay? With personal injury attorneys it’s the same question, as they all charge about the same rates. Do you want the Motel 6 experience or the “BC Client Experience”?

Call now and experience the difference immediately!
(800) 598-6998

Heroes for Hire

This is how it works. You call us. We evaluate your case, in person or on the phone. We dissect the events and comb through the details. We answer your questions, review the details of your case and discuss your options We talk and provide clear answers.

Then if you want to hire us and your case meets our criteria, we’ll represent you.

What is our criteria for cases? We only represent people who are legally, morally, and ethically entitled to a recovery. We only represent people with real injuries. We only want to be involved in cases where we get to be the hero, where we fight like David against Goliath to triumph over adversity and make a difference for a deserving individual. Given our high standards, we may not take your case – but we will still help you. Every single person who calls us or who walks through our doors will leave with advice and guidance, even those whose cases we don’t accept. That is our promise – that is the “BC Client Experience”. Contact us today and experience this unprecedented level of service for yourself.

General Traffic Accidents
Many of us take the many miles of California’s roads and highways for granted – they are just another part of our daily lives. But when you or somebody you love has been injured or killed in a traffic accident, these veins and arteries of our transportation infrastructure take on a more menacing significance. How has your life been affected? Debris on the roadway, 15 passenger van accidents, bus accidents, train accidents – and all the aforementioned types of accidents – nobody deserves to suffer this way. Not only are you in pain right now, but without the right legal representation you may never be able to hold the negligent party responsible and get the compensation you deserve. It is time to call the attorneys that will bring out the big guns and lay down the rule of law. It is time to call Bisnar & Chase. Besides, don’t you want to know what the “BC Client Experience” feels like?

Our attorneys are skilled in the following areas:
Are you one of the two million people injured in an auto accident in the U.S. this year? Do you need the guidance of a personal attorney in order to know what to do next? Do you need to know about getting your car repaired, getting medical treatment, getting reimbursed for your lost income? Have you lost a family member and need advice as to your rights? Call us now for assistance. Even if your case is small enough for you to handle yourself, we will answer your questions and advise you of your rights without any cost or obligation. We’ll get you pointed in the right direction. If you yearn for our caliber of representation, you’ll enjoy the “BC Client Experience”!

Recovering from a motorcycle accident is hard enough, but you may be finding that as a motorcyclist you face prejudice from all around you. Motorists, law enforcement officers, and insurance companies harbor a bias against motorcyclists and often believe an injured motorcyclist was probably at fault for the accident. Insurance companies as well as their adjusters and attorneys believe that a jury is not likely to believe or want to compensate a motorcyclist like they would an injured automobile driver. Why does this matter to you? Insurance companies are less likely to fairly compensate an injured motorcyclist because of this bias, and you will find it difficult to get what you deserve for your injuries without exceptional legal talent on your side.

If you are one of the projected 100,000 people injured in a motorcycle accident this year and need assistance or simply have some questions, call us. We will immediately answer your questions and point out your options. Within five minutes, whether you hire us or not, you’ll get a sense for what it is like to be a client of Bisnar & Chase. Consultations are always free and without any obligation whatsoever.

The Southern California based law firm of Bisnar Chase, LLP is dedicated to representing people who have been seriously injured or killed in traffic accidents. We encourage you to contact our experienced attorneys today to discuss your case for no cost and no obligation. We welcome your call even if you aren’t sure if your injuries are serious enough to warrant hiring an attorney, or if you are considering self-representation. Bisnar & Chase is ready to dedicate their significant experience and personal attention to your case – contact us today, and find out what the “BC Experience” is all about.

Bisnar & Chase has successfully represented many clients in construction, contractor, CalTrans, roadway, freeway design, and maintenance accidents – and we want to help you, too. If the companies, government agencies, or contractors responsible for keeping the California state infrastructure safe for you have failed at their job, then you need a law firm that will protect your rights and lead you to victory. You need lawyers who the CalTrans lawyers already know by their first names Contact us today – let Bisnar & Chase be your heroes.

As a bicycle rider you are uniquely vulnerable on our roads. Your safety depends not only on your own skill, but the respect and consideration of other drivers as well as safe road conditions. If you are one of the 40,000 people in the U.S. who have been involved in a bicycle accident with another vehicle this year, don’t let the careless actions of an inattentive or reckless driver ruin your life. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Don’t accept a Motel 6 type experience when you could be enjoying the Ritz type “BC Client Experience”. Call us today, and find out what it is like to talk to a hero in attorney clothing. Find out what it’s like to enjoy the “BC Client Experience.”

Automobile manufacturers want to sell cars and make money. Making sure you are fairly compensated for the injuries you suffer because of a faulty design, negligent manufacturing practices, or shoddy testing is not their top priority. Why should you pay the price for their negligence? Over the years we have seen a variety of defects cause tragic accidents. Weak roofs that crush in, faulty air bag design, air bag injuries, vehicle rollovers, seat belt failures, brake failures, door latch defects, occupant ejection, glass defects, and cruise control failures, we have seen them all. Don’t let manufacturers get away with murder – if you have been injured or a loved one killed by an automobile defect, contact the law office of Bisnar & Chase immediately. Immediate and proper preservation of the involved vehicle is crucial to supporting an auto defect case. Do not allow your vehicle to be repaired, altered or tampered with. It is crucial evidence in your auto defect case.

A truck accident creates many victims: you may have been the driver of a damaged automobile, a passenger in that vehicle, a suffering pedestrian, a seriously injured motorcycle rider – the list of potential victims is long. If you are seeking justice, you must secure the services of a law firm that is knowledgeable about truck accident litigation. But experience isn’t enough. You need attorneys whose passion for justice rules their every action. Not only are the lawyers at Bisnar & Chase intimately familiar with the complex state and federal trucking laws, but they also have the “read ‘em & weep” fighting spirit that you want on your side.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable of all traffic accident victims, and not surprisingly are at risk for more serious injuries and even death when involved in an accident. There will be about 60,000 pedestrians injured in traffic accidents this year. If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. If you have to lose a loved one in a pedestrian accident, then in addition you are entitled to compensation for your economic losses and your emotional losses as well. Let the attorneys at Bisnar & Chase lead you on your quest for compensation and justice.

Back to Top

truck law 123
 

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that state and local law enforcement along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) conducted 2,782 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections, across the nation, over a nine-day period. Their efforts resulted in 289 unsafe drivers or buses being taken off our roadways.

Our Atlanta bus accident lawyers think its high time that bus companies be monitored more closely, knowing the consequences that can result from a Georgia bus accident or tractor-trailer accident caused by an unsafe coach or driver.

In its effort to strengthen passenger carrier safety, FMCSA conducted surprise inspections beginning March 28 through April 6, 2011. Out-of-service violation citations were issued to 156 drivers and 262 vehicles by the enforcement strike force.

During a 17-day time period from March 12 to March 28, roughly 3,000 passenger carrier safety inspections were done across the country, resulting in nearly 10 percent of those passenger carrier vehicles being taken off roadways with reported violations.

“Safety is our number one priority,” said Secretary LaHood. “We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to shut down unsafe passenger bus companies that place motorists at risk and remove drivers from our roads who put passengers in harm’s way.”

Along with the inspections 95 commercial passenger bus companies got a full safety compliance review. This is the process used for determining a passenger carrier’s safety rating.

“Working side-by-side with our state and local law enforcement partners, we can ensure that every passenger bus company and driver operates as safely as possible,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “These strike force activities are one of the many effective tools we use year-round to raise the safety bar for commercial buses and drivers on our nation’s roadways.”

According to FMCSA, safety inspections and compliance reviews have increased significantly on the nation’s roughly 3,700 registered motor coach companies. Although, the recent enforcement blitz comes in the wake of several deadly bus accidents, including one in New York City that claimed the lives of more than a dozen passengers.

Roadside motor coach safety inspections have increased from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010. Motor coach company compliance reviews have gone from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.

The Obama Administration in 2009 developed a new Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. This plan includes proposed rules requiring that buses have seat belts and electronic on-board recorders (EOBR). These recorders are needed to replace paper records that drivers keep on themselves for their hours of driving. Strengthening driver heath requirements is also an issue that needs addressing.

Last year, regulations were put in place banning commercial drivers from texting while driving and banning hand-held cell phone use is being considered.

If you are involved in a Georgia bus accident, contact the Atlanta bus accident lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (800) 228-9159 or at (404) 658-9070 or contact us through this website.
===========
As we go through our daily lives, the concentration is usually on rushing to the next thing and not on getting there safely.

When you are driving too fast, the likelihood of an accident increases. To avoid a trucking accident in Atlanta, it is important to maintain reasonable speed on highways where trucks are present. And if you have been involved in a truck accident, it is important to seek the assistance of an experienced Atlanta injury attorney to help get you the award necessary to help pay for medical bills, rehabilitation and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Fairchild v. South Carolina Department of Transportation is a recent trucking accident case out of South Carolina. In this case the court looked to the issues surrounding damage awards for negligence in trucking accidents.

There was a South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) driver who was driving a dump truck with an attached rear trailer. In an attempt to make a u-turn on a highway, the driver merged into the median of the highway. Because of the length of the dump truck and the attached trailer, the rear of the trailer stuck out into the left traffic lane on the highway. Fairchild (plaintiff) was driving in that left lane on the highway. Upon seeing the trailer in the road, the plaintiff slammed on her brakes to avoid an accident. In doing this, a truck that was behind the plaintiff driven by Palmer (Defendant), crashed into plaintiff. As this was also a truck with a rear trailer attached, the force of this crash caused the plaintiff’s minivan to flip over and roll onto the median of the highway. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries and property damage.

Plaintiff sued SCDOT and Palmer. Upon signing a covenant not to sue with the SCDOT, Plaintiff continued her negligence lawsuit against Palmer. She sought actual damages for her property damage and physical injuries, as well as punitive damages.

The court in this case heard the appeal by the plaintiff because of the lower courts failure to instruct a jury as to punitive damages.

There are several different types of damages awarded in personal injury cases. The main types of damages are compensatory damages, often referred to as actual damages. These damages are awarded to compensate a victim for injury, property damage and/or harm suffered. On the other hand, punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant’s actions were so egregious, malicious or reckless as to inspire the court to punish them. These types of damages were created to have a deterrent effect on the public at large.

The court in this case looks to statute and case precedent to guide its decision. Where punitive damages are sought, the jury is responsible for the decision of whether to award these damages. However, it is the responsibility of the judge to give the jury instructions as to the proof necessary and the way to quantify these damages. Because the lower court failed to instruct the jury regarding this type of damages, this South Carolina court reminds the state courts of procedural policy.

Additionally, this court analyzed the rules that are essential when determining the application of the damages. Every driver has a duty to drive as a reasonably prudent person in similar circumstance. Statute also indicates that in order to act reasonably as a driver, you are not to speed or follow another vehicle too closely. This is a duty of care imputed on all drivers.

Where a driver fails to drive at a reasonable speed or follows too closely behind another vehicle, reckless, willful or wonton conduct is inferred. Where this conduct is inferred, punitive damages are appropriate.

Thus, this court held that the jury is responsible for making this decision although the law surrounding standards must be set by the judge.
======================
Atlanta truck accident cases can seem very overwhelming because there is so much confusion over who is liable.

Is it the truck driver? The truck driver’s employer? Or some third party you are not even aware of?

Our experienced Atlanta injury attorneys can help you identify the responsible parties and prove your case.

Blood v. VH-1 Music First is a case arising from a car accident caused by a commercial truck. Dennis Hernandez (Hernandez) was a commercial truck driver for MTV Networks. While he was traveling northbound on I-57 in Illinois he approached traffic. In an attempt to avoid getting stuck in the traffic jam, Hernandez crossed the center median of the highway to get onto I-57 northbound. This u-turn on the highway caused a severe accident that left a four to five mile traffic jam starting where Hernandez made the u-turn causing the severe three car accident.

Four hours after the accident, traffic was still jammed because of the accident caused by the driver. Brothers Paul and David Blood (plaintiffs) were driving on I-57 in their vehicle when they approached the beginning of the traffic jam. Behind the blood car a T.E.A.M Logistics (Logistics) truck driven by Milinko Cukovic (Cukovic) came and smashed into the pack of the plaintiff’s car. This impact left David Blood seriously injured and Paul Blood deceased.

The Blood family filed personal injury lawsuits against Cukovic, and T.E.A.M Logistics. Logistics removed the case to federal court and entered a third-party complaint against Hernandez, MTV Networks and VH-1 Music First (Hernandez defendants). Logistics argued that because of the negligence of the Hernandez defendants which caused the first accident, the second accident occurred. The plaintiffs then added the Hernandez defendants in an amended complaint.

In order to prove a case for negligence, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the four elements of negligence. The four elements of negligence are: the defendant had a specific duty of care; the defendant breached this duty of care; the defendant’s breach was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries; and there are damages.

Upon hearing the case, the district court entered summary judgment for the Hernandez defendants. This district court found that the Hernandez defendants were not the proximate cause of the injuries the plaintiff’s sustained. The plaintiff’s appealed this case to the circuit court.

This court first analyzed the validity of the lower courts summary judgment. The only time summary judgment is appropriate is where the moving party shows the court that there is no dispute as to the material facts of the case. Therefore, where there is a factual dispute it is improper for the court to grant summary judgment. A factual dispute is where a reasonable jury hearing the case could decide for either party.

The court in this case acknowledged that it is undisputed that Hernandez had a duty and that this duty was breached by Hernandez. However, to prove a case for negligence the plaintiff must show causation. Therefore, to establish if there was a factual dispute in this case, the court must examine the requirements of proximate cause.

To prove proximate cause the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty was a substantial factor to the injuries the plaintiff suffered. Next, plaintiff must show that a reasonably prudent person would be able to foresee that as a result of their action, the plaintiff could sustain the type of injuries sustained.

Because plaintiffs could not show that Hernandez could have foreseen a car accident four hours after the time that he made the illegal u-turn, this court affirmed the summary judgment of the district court. Plaintiffs were therefore unable to collect damages from the Hernandez defendants.
======================
We pay insurance premiums in order to have a safeguard if we are ever involved in a car accident. But, how many times do we hear of insurance companies trying to get away with not releasing benefits?

If you are involved in an Atlanta truck accident, it is important to know what benefits you are entitled to. It is important to have an experienced Atlanta injury attorney advocating for you against the big insurance conglomerates. Our attorneys understand what it needs to get you the benefits you have paid for.

Vann v. Mercury is a recent truck accident case out of New Jersey. The case arose where the plaintiff, Richard Vann (plaintiff), was driving a truck for a company named Vann Trucking which was owned and operated by his father. Plaintiff was on his way to pick up a trailer to hitch to the truck. While the plaintiff was parked on a service road near Philadelphia, a train struck the truck. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his lower back, shoulders, neck and head.

At the time of this accident, plaintiff had an insurance policy with Mercury Indemnity Company (defendant) for his two personal vehicles. As part of plaintiff’s insurance policy with the defendant, he had coverage in the form of personal injury protection (PIP) and med-pay benefits. As the defendant points out, there were exclusions to the benefit payout.

Vann Trucking had a commercial insurance policy with National Independent Truckers Insurance Company (National). This commercial policy was for the truck being driven by the plaintiff. The problem arose because the commercial policy did not provide PIP or med-pay benefits.

In an attempt to seek additional benefits for medical care, plaintiff entered a claim with his personal insurer for med-pay benefits. This claim was rejected and the defendant cited that the “regular use” exclusion in the policy was applicable to the claim.

Most regular use clauses stipulate that the insurance company will pay medical expense benefits to an insured who suffers a bodily injury caused by an accident arising from the use, maintenance or ownership of an insured’s automobile. Additionally, the policy in this case adds that they will provide coverage for medical benefits for the insured where the insured is using a vehicle not owned by him, and not normally used by the insured. Essentially, if the insured regularly uses the vehicle not owned or insured by him, and is involved in an accident, the med-pay coverage benefits are excluded and the insured cannot collect.

Basically, insurance companies want to protect themselves from having to pay out benefits to the insured where the insured is regularly using a vehicle that is not under the policy. The purpose of this is to encourage people to insure each vehicle they have regular access to. Under this policy with the exclusion provision, the insurance company will only extend benefits where the insured is injured in a vehicle on the policy or where the accident occurred in a vehicle that the insured is infrequently driving.

Because the truck the plaintiff was in when he sustained the injuries was regularly and customarily used by the plaintiff, the insurance company would not extend med-pay benefits.

The court agreed with the insurance company because case precedent on this issue has found that exclusionary clauses like the one at issue here, apply to cases where the insured is using another vehicle for work.

Thus the plaintiff in this case could not collect med-pay benefits. Summary judgment was entered on behalf of the insurance company.
===============
The term HAZMAT refers to hazardous materials and items. There are a huge variety of items classified as Hazmat, from various chemical products to biological waste products. Hazmat products must be transported in many cases and they are often moved on trucks.

Our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know that a crash involving a truck carrying Hazmat material can be devastating. Not only could the truck accident cause injury to the parties involved but the release of hazardous materials could do widespread and lasting damage. To protect the public and to ensure that the transport of hazardous materials is as safe as possible, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict rules for Hazmat transportations.

FMCSA Hazmat Rules Aim to Ensure Safety

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes regulations and requirements on truck drivers throughout the United States. They address Hazmat Transportations in sections 385-397 of their regulations.

These regulations address safety fitness procedures; rules of practice for companies and drivers transporting hazardous material; general regulations; and driving and parking rules for those engaged in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Some of the requirements and provisions found within these regulations include:

Methods of determining a safety rating. The FMCSA will conduct a compliance review of companies transporting hazardous goods and, within 30 days, will issue a safety rating following the Safety Fitness Rating Methodology. Motor carriers who receive an unsatisfactory safety rating will be prohibited from operating any type of commercial motor vehicle.

Rules mandating that commercial motor vehicles containing certain types of hazardous materials are prohibited from parking within five feet of the traveled portion of a public street or highway. They are also prohibited from parking on private property or within 300 feet of bridges, workplaces, tunnels or dwellings unless it is necessary to park there for a brief period to perform required operations.

A requirement that motor carriers carrying hazardous materials use a placard or have sufficient markings.

A requirement that motor carriers with certain hazardous materials arrange a route that avoids heavily populated areas, places with large crowds, alleys and narrow streets unless it is an emergency or unless there is no practical alternative.

A mandate that drivers of vehicles carrying hazardous materials must inspect the tires of the vehicle when beginning each trip and whenever the vehicle is parked. If the inspection reveals that there is a problem, then repair of the defect is required and should be performed at the nearest safe location.

These are just a few of the many requirements that FMCSA has proposed in order to ensure that drivers are as safe as possible in transporting hazardous goods. The regulations address maintenance of the trucks, driver behavior, and routes in oder to ensure that safety is the number one priority from the start to the end of the trip.

Call the Atlanta truck accident lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP at (800) 228-9159 or (404) 658-9070.

=====================

Trucking companies have strict requirements and regulations that must be complied with in order to make the roads safer for everyone. As our Atlanta truck accident lawyers know, any violation of the rules could result in accidents and devastating consequences. In order to ensure that rule violations are caught before a crash occurs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a number of enforcement powers including the right to shut down a trucking company.

FMCSA has exercised its authority many times to stop unsafe trucking companies from operating. Just recently, for example, FMCSA shut down an Atlanta based trucking company: Southern Transportation, Inc.

FMCSA Shuts down Atlanta Bus Company

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that it had shut down Southern Transportation after the bus company stopped cooperating with FMCSA investigators and after the bus company failed to provide its company safety records to the federal investigators.

A trucking company is required to keep records of many different things including hours that employees’ work and maintenance records on their fleet. These records ensure that employees do not violate the hours-of-service requirements intended to prevent drowsy driving. The records also ensure that the brakes and other fundamental systems of the trucks are maintained in order to avoid a crash caused by mechanical defects.

Unless FMCSA has access to safety records, it cannot know when a trucking company is following the rules and requirements. This is why it is such as serious issue when a company refuses to comply and turn over its safety records.

Until recently however, FMCSA’s power was limited in investigating and shutting down trucking companies over safety records violations. FMCSA’s power was expanded, however, as a result of recently passed legislation called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

MAP-21 improved highway/driving safety laws in many ways, ranging from imposing new requirements on states to pass tough DUI laws in order to receive federal funding to the new requirements that impact the trucking industry.

Under MAP-21 provisions, FMCSA now has the authority to shut down a motor carrier by putting it out of service for failure to comply with a demand for company safety records. This authority is long overdue. FMCSA now can protect the traveling public more effectively since it has the authority to force trucking companies to provide records on safety.

FMCSA used this authority to shut down Southern Transportation, Inc. This decision came around a week after shutting down another trucking company that was operating on a similar business model and that was considered an imminent hazard to safety.

With the FMCSA’s new authority in MAP-21 already being put to good use to stop dangerous companies from making the roads unsafe, the hope is that the number of truck accidents will decrease. Catching safety violations early and shutting down the violators can reduce the number of dangerous trucks and buses on the road and everyone will be safer because of it.
==================

Under federal law, an interstate trucking company must have a minimum of $750,000.00 in liability insurance available to satisfy any judgment that might arise out of a accident in which innocent third parties are injured. This is a minimum amount set by law. Most companies have coverage greater than this amount to protect their assets. If someone were to be killed or seriously injured, given the seriousness of accidents involving large tractor-trailer rigs, it is not uncommon that the damages inflicted will be substantial. Accordingly, it is not uncommon that these minimum limits are exceeded. Many carriers have one, five, ten and 20 million dollars in coverage and others have even greater amounts dependent upon the size of the trucking operation and the amount of assets of that a particular trucking company may wish to protect in the event of a serious claim.

If a trucking company only has the minimum coverage and a judgment greater than $750,000.00 is obtained by the innocent victim or their family, then in that event, the family of the victim can attempt to collect the excess amount of the judgment directly from the motor carrier’s assets. Thus, in many ways, the minimum coverage required by law is irrelevant because most carriers have far greater coverage. The minimum coverage typically is relevant only when smaller carriers are involved with few business assets.

Many carriers are in the business of transporting hazardous substances in interstate commerce. With respect to such substances, because they can be deadly if spilled or involved in an accident, the minimum coverage for such substances is typically $5 million in liability coverage. This is because if a toxic chemical is spilled many people may be affected and thus higher limits of liability coverage are required by law. Again, the more responsible carriers provide even greater coverage because $5 million may be woefully inadequate if there is a spill of toxic substances on an interstate highway.

The good news about federal law is that the minimum limit of $750,000.00 is far greater than Georgia state law minimum limit of only $100,000.00 for intrastate operations. If a trucking company is operating in intrastate commerce only, that is in the State of Georgia by itself, as an example, then in that event, the minimum coverage required by state law is $100,000.00. Again, the more responsible companies which have assets that they need to protect for their own reasons against an excess judgment will have greater amounts of coverage. Fly-by-night or smaller companies may only have the minimum.

We have long advocated that the minimum amounts currently set forth under both state and federal law need to be increased because of the tremendous damage inflicted by these vehicles when involved in accidents. When serious injuries and/or death or involved, the minimum limits are insufficient to compensate the innocent victim. Thus, while the minimum limits, in our judgment, are inadequate, nonetheless, they do provide a minimum safety net for the motoring public.

=======================
Many teens – and maybe even their parents – may feel that an Atlanta trucking accident isn’t something they need to concern themselves with. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find a teenager operating a big-rig.

However, because teens share the road with these large vehicles, it’s important for parents to discuss how to navigate safely around them. Teens need to be reminded of the dangers around these vehicles, which can sometimes weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds. Many teens driving are familiar with passenger cars and trucks, but their chances of survival decrease exponentially if they tangle with a large truck. It’s a topic many driver’s education courses may simply gloss over, so it’s crucial for parents to make sure their teen is educated about the dangers

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys believe this discussion is all the more important to have in light of a recent study that revealed the number of teens car accident fatalities is on an alarmingly upward incline.

According to a report released earlier this month by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of drivers aged 17 and under who died in passenger vehicles increased during the first half of 2011, compared to the first six months of 2010. This was true for all 50 states and Washington D.C.

The statistics showed that 16 and 17-year-olds killed in car accidents increased by 11 percent during that time frame. Once figures are tabulated for the end of 2011, if that is a trend that continues, it will mean the end of eight consecutive years of a decline in teen driver fatalities.

While there is no breakdown in this report of exactly how many of those specifically involved large trucks, what we do know from previous research is that those involved in Atlanta trucking accidents suffer more severe injuries than those who crash into other passenger vehicles.

In a large-scale study conducted by the National Highway Safety Association, researchers looked at trucking accident data from 1975 to 2005. What they found was that more than 7 percent of those killed in trucking accidents were teens ages 17 and under. The next-highest age group, those ages 18 to 25, suffered 17 percent of the total trucking accident fatalities – the most of any other age group. This alone should be evidence enough for parents to have a discussion with their teens about driving around large trucks.

The Geico Educational Foundation in 2009 released a brochure with tips for teens to avoid trucking accidents. The first of those is to be aware of the trucker’s blind spots, also referred to as “no zones.” A good general rule is that if you can’t see the trucker’s mirror, he or she is not going to be able to see you. If you need to pass a truck, make sure you can see the front of the rig in your rear view mirror before you pull ahead. Never swerve in front of a truck or come to an abrupt stop just ahead of a truck, as these large vehicles can’t stop as quickly as the driver of a passenger vehicle. Lastly, avoid getting between a turning truck and the curb, as these vehicles often require a large amount of space to make their wide turns.

Continue reading “Atlanta Trucking Accidents Involve Teens Too” »
===================

According to Fleet Owner.com, Aegis Mobility has been conducting annual surveys on distracted driving among professional drivers for the past several years. This year, as they begin their third-annual survey on Workplace Distracted Driving, Aegis Mobility is targeting fleet operators and asking them to answer questions about distracted driving behaviors.

The aim of the study conducted by Aegis Mobility is to develop a better understanding about employer attitudes regarding cell phone use and driver distraction. The results of the study can serve as a guide to help policymakers in the commercial trucking industry to make smart, safe policies and as a guide to help shed light on the dangers of distracted driving within the commercial trucking industry.

Our Atlanta truck accident attorneys know that commercial drivers are not supposed to engage in dangerous behavior when they are driving. Unfortunately, driving while distracted is extremely dangerous and can significantly increase the chances of an accident happening.

Professional Drivers and Distracted Driving
There are a number of different behaviors that can be considered distracted driving, but perhaps the most dangerous behavior of all is texting and driving. This is why the Department of Transportation (DOT) has instituted a ban on texting for all commercial drivers including drivers of large trucks and drivers who transport passengers.

When the ban passed When the ban passed indicated that there were harsh penalties for any driver who failed to comply with the prohibition against texting behind the wheel. The civil and criminal penalties that a commercial driver could face if he was caught texting could total up to $2,750.

Such strict penalties are needed to create a strong deterrent against texting because a driver who texts puts himself and everyone else at a 23 times greater risk of becoming involved in a car accident. When the texting driver is a truck driver, this is a serious problem because trucks are so much larger than passenger cars and are thus much more likely to cause a fatal wreck.

Texting is not the only dangerous behavior, though, and laws don’t always get followed no matter how harsh the penalties are for non-compliance. Aegis Mobile’s new study aims to see whether commercial fleet operators, risk managers and safety professionals are really taking strong steps to make sure that their drivers are safe and not distracted by texting or any other distractions. This is why they are urging fleet operators to answer their 3-minute survey and even offering an incentive in the form of an entry to win a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.

Hopefully, many fleet operators will answer the survey in order to provide information on the actual practices related to distracted driving within the trucking industry. The results could encourage lawmakers to pass additional laws on distracted driving or to increase enforcement of the widespread ban that is in place on texting. The results could also show companies how important it is to take a strong stance on distracted driving so those that do not already have policies in place can make changes to better protect the public from the dangers of a distracted driver.

If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, call the Atlanta truck accident lawyers at Finch McCranie LLP at (800) 228-9159 or (404) 658-9070.
===================

Initial statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are that traffic fatalities were on the rise in 2012.

Our Atlanta trucking accident attorneys understand early estimates indicate more than 34,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the U.S. last year. If this bears true when the final numbers are tallied, this would represent a 5.3 percent increase as compared to the approximately 32,300 traffic deaths reported in 2011.

This would be the first annual increase of traffic deaths we’ve had since 2005 in this country. In the last six years, the number of people killed in traffic crashes had been dropping steadily. It dropped about 26 percent from 2005 to 2011.

It appears that traffic deaths increased the most during the first quarter of the year (about 12.5 percent), tapering off each quarter thereafter. In fact, that was one of the highest quarterly increases ever reported since the mid-1970s, when the NHTSA first began keeping track. The only time it was higher was the first quarter of 1979, when the fatality rate rose by more than 15 percent.

In the past, the tanking economy was at least partially cited as a factor in the years-long decrease. This made sense, considering the price of oil was up and people weren’t getting raises or, worse, were getting laid off or couldn’t find a job at all. That meant fewer people were driving, fewer truck companies were hiring and overall, there were less miles being traveled.

This last year, researchers say there has been a 0.3 percent increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled. That still doesn’t line up with the 5.3 percent rise in traffic deaths.

When we compare the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, it’s jumped from 1.10 in 2011 to 1.16 in 2012.

The one bit of good news, at least for Georgia, is that regionally, we didn’t fare bad. There were many areas where the rate of fatalities soared as high as 9 and 10 percent. The region with the highest uptick was Region 6, which includes Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, where the rates rose by 10 percent. In region 3, which includes North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, it rose by 4 percent. It rose by 5 percent in Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

In our area, Region 4, the fatality rate rose by 2 percent. The region includes Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida.

On the one hand, it’s good news that we’re not the worst in the country. Still, a 2 percent increase, when we’re talking about lives lost, is never something to become complacent about.

The NHTSA has thusfar declined to speculate on some of the possible reasons for this uptick until the final numbers are in.

We’ll be closely following any developments. In the meantime, we urge everyone to do their best to practice safer driving habits this summer.
===================
On the same day a tanker truck explosion in Mexico City killed at least 22 people and injured 36 others, families of U.S. truck crash victims spoke out to urge Congress to support legislation that would address truck weight and size limits.

While our Atlanta truck accident lawyers have yet to learn the cause of the massive tragedy in Mexico, we do know that the natural gas tanker exploded after the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed on the highway, which was lined with dozens of homes. Authorities there say the death toll could rise, as several of the victims remain in critical condition.

We also know that the heavier one of these large trucks is, the more difficult it can be to control and the more prone it may be to crashes.

Mexico doesn’t currently have the same kinds of weight and size regulations that the U.S. has implemented, but we need to ensure those regulations are protected from special interest groups who may work to pressure the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. This proposed legislation is one way of doing it.

The Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act was re-introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) after two previous failed attempts, the latest in 2011.

The measure would apply the current tractor-trailer truck weight limit of 80,000 pounds and a size limit of 53 feet to the entire national highway system, which would include both interstates as well as smaller highways. Certain exemptions, such as those for firefighting equipment, would be maintained under the bill.

As it now stands, those standard size and weight restrictions are already applicable to the 44,000-mile interstate system. This bill would extend most of those same restrictions to the larger 220,000-mile national highway system.

Additionally, this measure would expand the current halt of triple tractor trailer runs on interstates to the broader national system. It would also seal any loopholes that allow overweight trucks to remain in operation. Additionally, an enforcement program would be established to ensure that violators would have a clear chain of accountability.

Trucks that are heavier and bigger have a disproportionately high share of motor vehicle deaths, when we’re looking at the statistics on a per-miles-traveled basis. These vehicles are known to be at increased risk for rollover, swaying and they also require longer distances to make a safe stop.

Lautenberg was quoted as saying that not only do these massive vehicles pose an immediate risk to motorists, they also take a toll on the integrity of our bridges and highways.

This measure is co-sponsored by other Democrats in New Jersey, California and Missouri. A companion bill in the House is also being sponsored by a Democrat from Massachusetts.

The Truck Safety Coalition reports that a new poll found overwhelming public support for truck weight limitations, with nearly 70 percent opposing heavier trucks and nearly 90 percent expressing a strong opposition to paying higher taxes for the infrastructure damage caused by heavier trucks.
================
Criminal prosecutors have filed charges against both a semi truck driver and a commercial shuttle bus driver, for their roles in a crash last month near the Atlanta airport that resulted in 17 injuries.

Our Atlanta injury attorneys understand there were multiple factors to blame in this situation, a fact that highlights widespread problems within the entire shuttle bus industry – from the design of the vehicles to the fact that they are often poorly maintained to the fact that drivers often aren’t certified to operate them.

Any one of these factors has the potential for fatal consequences. This case had all of them, plus the involvement of a semi truck performing an illegal u-turn. Miraculously, no one was killed.

According to authorities, here’s what happened:

A shuttle bus driver was transporting 16 passengers, including at least two children, to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Meanwhile, the driver of a tractor trailer was making an illegal u-turn on Loop Road. The shuttle bus slammed into the tractor trailer, and everyone aboard the bus – including the driver – had to be transported to a nearby hospital, some with serious injuries.

Although the tractor-trailer driver was acting illegally, police investigators say that it was in fact the poor condition of the tires that were to blame. One even had the steel belts poking through the rubber.

But the shuttle bus problems didn’t stop there. The rear brakes of the bus were not functional. That meant when the bus driver attempted to make an abrupt stop, it had only the front brakes upon which to rely.

On top of all that, the driver of the bus did not have a proper commercial license for the type of vehicle she was driving or the number of passengers it carried.

The owner of the shuttle bus company admits mistakes were made, but said that the driver of each vehicle is supposed to conduct safety checks on a vehicle before transporting passengers. The firm is investigating whether that was done, as well as why the driver was operating a vehicle for which she had no proper authorization.

Meanwhile, the trucking company, while in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, has been involved in at least 200 crashes in the last two years alone. Of those, six resulted in fatalities.

Many times, we find in these cases that shuttle buses failed to even meet the basic requirements as laid forth by the FMCSA. However, we would argue that those standards should be even stricter. For example, as it stands now, there is no requirement for the vehicles to be equipped with seat belts. Plus, particularly with airport transport vehicles, luggage is often not properly secured and there is a tendency to overload those vehicles in an effort to make fewer trips.

The sad reality is that too often, these firms do not have the safety of their customers or others on the road at the top of their priority list. We hope that if there is any good to come of situations like this, it is that this kind of thinking will change.
===============
Late last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration wrapped up intensive training of its new Quick Strike team, a group of 50 passenger carrier safety investigators whose goal is to target serious regulatory violators nationwide.

Our Georgia trucking accident attorneys understand that the teams have already begun to dive head-first into action, so far shuttering operations of three companies deemed to pose an immediate danger to public safety. One of those companies, Best Limo Service, is based in Tucker – just a half hour northeast of Atlanta.

The FMCSA’s team reported that the carrier’s operations were ordered to be halted immediately, due to the severity of the hazard posed to the public.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was quoted as saying that the traveling public has a right to expect safety standards will be met when they climb aboard a commercial bus, van or other vehicle. He further reiterated that carriers that flagrantly break the law and put people’s lives in jeopardy won’t be allowed to continue operations.

While Best Limo Service is headquartered in Georgia, it has branches throughout the southeastern U.S., providing charter services and tours to thousands of passengers annually.

But an investigation launched in mid-April found serious federal rule violations, which revealed a total disregard for the safety of passengers.

In one instance, a driver had tested positive for drugs and another who had a suspended commercial driver’s license. And yet, these individuals were allowed to continue to work for the company as drivers, transporting passengers.

The company was additionally found to be failing to monitor each driver’s compliance with federal hours-of-service mandates. This resulted in drivers who were overly-fatigued and allowed to transport passengers.

The violations didn’t even stop there. The vehicle maintenance program operated by the company was clearly not doing enough to ensure that passenger vehicles were in proper working order. An on-site inspection of three of the company’s buses ended with all three vehicles sidelined out-of-service for critical safety violations.

This is only the beginning of this effort, according to the FMCSA, which also plans to involve law enforcement personnel, advocates and industry insiders into the fold.

It’s encouraging that over the last half a dozen years, the number of motorcoach safety inspections has tripled, up to almost 34,000 in 2012. That year, there were 880 drivers and more than 1,830 vehicles placed out of service.

However, companies continue to flout safety rules and regulations. Companies cut corners to save money. Drivers put their own bottom line ahead of their passengers’ safety. Investigators learned the company failed to make sure drivers weren’t abusing drugs or alcohol or ignoring hours of service rules. Additionally, qualified mechanics were not employed by the company, as required in order to ensure proper maintenance of vehicles.

The limo service shut-down in Tucker was followed shortly thereafter by the shut down of a Niagara Falls passenger carrier, which operates a small number of tour buses in the area.

The FMCSA encourages riders to “Look Before You Book” by checking a motorcoach company’s credentials and safety history.
================

===============

Bus accidents cause numerous deaths and injuries every year in the Georgia and the United States. This firm recently represented a young man seriously injured when the driver of the bus in which he was riding mistakenly exited I-75 in Atlanta and fell from a bridge. Several young men and the driver were killed and many injured.

Last week U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced several new measures that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking to help ensure that passengers traveling by bus are as safe as possible.

The U.S. DOT will now require more rigorous commercial driver’s license testing standards, seek new rules to strengthen passenger carrier and driver compliance with federal safety regulations, and empower consumers to review safety records of bus companies before booking.

Secretary also announced that FMCSA will be teaming up with state law enforcement to conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring and summer peak travel season.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new final rule requiring anyone applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to first obtain a commercial driver’s learner’s permit. The rule also requires all state licensing agencies to use a CDL testing system that meets the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators CDL knowledge and skill standards, and prohibits the use of foreign language interpreters to reduce the potential for testing fraud.

Prior to this new rule, CDL applicants were not required to first obtain a learner’s permit and CDL testing systems were not uniform nationwide.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety, including a provision that would give the U.S. DOT greater authority to pursue enforcement action against unsafe “reincarnated” passenger carriers by establishing a federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is simply a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.

The Department is also proposing to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving U.S. DOT operating authority, revise current law to ensure a driver’s CDL can be suspended or revoked for drug- and alcohol-related offenses committed in non-commercial vehicles, and raise the penalty from $2,000 a day to $25,000 for passenger carriers that attempt to operate without USDOT authority.

The USDOT also unveiled a safety checklist that will help consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and USDOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel.

The checklist is now available online at FMCSA’s Passenger Bus Safety Web site. FMCSA is also encouraging consumers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238).

In addition, FMCSA and its state and local enforcement partners are supporting improved passenger bus safety with a growing number of unannounced bus safety inspections across the country. Starting this week and lasting throughout the summer travel season, the enforcement campaign will target popular destinations such as amusement parks, national parks, casinos, and sports event venues.

Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of unannounced bus safety inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation’s estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside safety inspections of motorcoaches jumped from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010, while compliance reviews rose from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.

The Administration has taken a number of additional actions over the past several years to improve passenger safety:

• Last December, USDOT launched a new safety measurement system titled Compliance, Safety, Accountability that provides detailed safety data to identify bus companies for safety interventions.

• The Obama Administration is spearheading major improvements to passenger carrier safety through a wide-ranging Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. USDOT has proposed rules that will require buses to have seat belts and electronic on-board recorders to replace easily falsified paper records of driver hours.

• Last year, USDOT adopted a rule to combat distracted driving by banning commercial drivers from texting behind the wheel and proposed a new standard to prohibit hand-held mobile phone use.

================

================
Bus accidents cause numerous deaths and injuries every year in the Georgia and the United States. This firm recently represented a young man seriously injured when the driver of the bus in which he was riding mistakenly exited I-75 in Atlanta and fell from a bridge. Several young men and the driver were killed and many injured.

Last week U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced several new measures that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is taking to help ensure that passengers traveling by bus are as safe as possible.

The U.S. DOT will now require more rigorous commercial driver’s license testing standards, seek new rules to strengthen passenger carrier and driver compliance with federal safety regulations, and empower consumers to review safety records of bus companies before booking.

Secretary also announced that FMCSA will be teaming up with state law enforcement to conduct unannounced motorcoach inspections at popular travel destinations throughout the spring and summer peak travel season.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new final rule requiring anyone applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to first obtain a commercial driver’s learner’s permit. The rule also requires all state licensing agencies to use a CDL testing system that meets the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators CDL knowledge and skill standards, and prohibits the use of foreign language interpreters to reduce the potential for testing fraud.

Prior to this new rule, CDL applicants were not required to first obtain a learner’s permit and CDL testing systems were not uniform nationwide.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety, including a provision that would give the U.S. DOT greater authority to pursue enforcement action against unsafe “reincarnated” passenger carriers by establishing a federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is simply a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.

The Department is also proposing to require new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving U.S. DOT operating authority, revise current law to ensure a driver’s CDL can be suspended or revoked for drug- and alcohol-related offenses committed in non-commercial vehicles, and raise the penalty from $2,000 a day to $25,000 for passenger carriers that attempt to operate without USDOT authority.

The USDOT also unveiled a safety checklist that will help consumers review a bus company’s safety record, safety rating and USDOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel.

The checklist is now available online at FMCSA’s Passenger Bus Safety Web site. FMCSA is also encouraging consumers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238).

In addition, FMCSA and its state and local enforcement partners are supporting improved passenger bus safety with a growing number of unannounced bus safety inspections across the country. Starting this week and lasting throughout the summer travel season, the enforcement campaign will target popular destinations such as amusement parks, national parks, casinos, and sports event venues.

Over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of unannounced bus safety inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation’s estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside safety inspections of motorcoaches jumped from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010, while compliance reviews rose from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.

The Administration has taken a number of additional actions over the past several years to improve passenger safety:

• Last December, USDOT launched a new safety measurement system titled Compliance, Safety, Accountability that provides detailed safety data to identify bus companies for safety interventions.

• The Obama Administration is spearheading major improvements to passenger carrier safety through a wide-ranging Motorcoach Safety Action Plan. USDOT has proposed rules that will require buses to have seat belts and electronic on-board recorders to replace easily falsified paper records of driver hours.

• Last year, USDOT adopted a rule to combat distracted driving by banning commercial drivers from texting behind the wheel and proposed a new standard to prohibit hand-held mobile phone use.

==================

====================

Atlanta Shuttle Bus Accident Results in Many Injuries, Criminal Charges

Criminal prosecutors have filed charges against both a semi truck driver and a commercial shuttle bus driver, for their roles in a crash last month near the Atlanta airport that resulted in 17 injuries.

Our Atlanta injury attorneys understand there were multiple factors to blame in this situation, a fact that highlights widespread problems within the entire shuttle bus industry – from the design of the vehicles to the fact that they are often poorly maintained to the fact that drivers often aren’t certified to operate them.
Any one of these factors has the potential for fatal consequences. This case had all of them, plus the involvement of a semi truck performing an illegal u-turn. Miraculously, no one was killed.
According to authorities, here’s what happened:
A shuttle bus driver was transporting 16 passengers, including at least two children, to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Meanwhile, the driver of a tractor trailer was making an illegal u-turn on Loop Road. The shuttle bus slammed into the tractor trailer, and everyone aboard the bus – including the driver – had to be transported to a nearby hospital, some with serious injuries.
Although the tractor-trailer driver was acting illegally, police investigators say that it was in fact the poor condition of the tires that were to blame. One even had the steel belts poking through the rubber.
But the shuttle bus problems didn’t stop there. The rear brakes of the bus were not functional. That meant when the bus driver attempted to make an abrupt stop, it had only the front brakes upon which to rely.
On top of all that, the driver of the bus did not have a proper commercial license for the type of vehicle she was driving or the number of passengers it carried.
The owner of the shuttle bus company admits mistakes were made, but said that the driver of each vehicle is supposed to conduct safety checks on a vehicle before transporting passengers. The firm is investigating whether that was done, as well as why the driver was operating a vehicle for which she had no proper authorization.
Meanwhile, the trucking company, while in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, has been involved in at least 200 crashes in the last two years alone. Of those, six resulted in fatalities.
Many times, we find in these cases that shuttle buses failed to even meet the basic requirements as laid forth by the FMCSA. However, we would argue that those standards should be even stricter. For example, as it stands now, there is no requirement for the vehicles to be equipped with seat belts. Plus, particularly with airport transport vehicles, luggage is often not properly secured and there is a tendency to overload those vehicles in an effort to make fewer trips.
The sad reality is that too often, these firms do not have the safety of their customers or others on the road at the top of their priority list. We hope that if there is any good to come of situations like this, it is that this kind of thinking will change.

===============================

CASTLE ROCK – Just after noon on Thursday (August 12), Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Maintenance Technician 2 Guy Copeland was busy mowing the grassy median on I-5 near Castle Rock in Cowlitz County when a passing motorist flicked a lit cigarette out of their window.

The cigarette butt landed directly in front of the mower and almost instantly the extremely dry grass went up in flames. Guy immediately backed the mower up, but the fire spread quickly and had soon had the machine surrounded. After radioing for help, Guy leapt out of the mower to safety. The Washington State Patrol and two more WSDOT employees soon arrived on the scene and closed one left lane on I-5 northbound to make room for the fire trucks and personnel from Castle Rock Fire and EMS, the Cowlitz County Fire District 3 and the state Department of Natural Resources. After about an hour and a half, the fire was out, and left lane was reopened just before 2:30 p.m.

“What we have here is a careless motorist who needlessly risked the life of a state employee and damaged state equipment,” said WSDOT Southwest Region Maintenance and Operations Manager Rick Sjolander. “All because they couldn’t be bothered to put their cigarette out properly.”

This summer has been extremely dry, which increases the risk for brush and grass fires across the state. As a result, WSDOT, the Washington State Patrol and a host of state agencies and local fire districts have teamed up to send drivers a simple message, “Keep your butt in the car.”

By throwing a lit cigarette out the window, you jeopardize the safety of others, cause potential traffic back-ups while emergency response teams battle the fire, and cost taxpayers up to $100,000 an acre. It’s not cheap for those caught throwing cigarettes out their window either. The Washington State Patrol will fine violators $1,025 if caught.

WSDOT would also like to emphasize the fact that summer is one of the busiest highway maintenance seasons in the state. All motorists are asked to please slow down, pay attention and use caution while driving past a highway work zone, whether it’s in a travel lane or on the shoulder or median.
Give ‘em a Brake!

Work Zone Safety Facts:

It is more likely that a motorist will be killed in a highway work zone accident than a construction or maintenance employee. In Washington, 12 motorists are killed for every WSDOT employee killed and 214 motorists are injured for every WSDOT employee injured.
The most common cause of work zone accidents is speeding and inattentive driving.
All traffic law violation fines are doubled inside a work zone when workers are present (RCW 46.61.527).
All motorists must obey the directions of all flaggers or pilot vehicle drivers within the work zone. If you ignore their directions or in any way endanger their lives with reckless driving, you will be charged with a misdemeanor (RCW 46.61.015).
State law dictates that all motorists must yield the right of way to any highway construction personnel, vehicles with flashing yellow lights or construction equipment inside a highway construction or maintenance work zone (RCW 46.61.215).
Contact our Nebraskatruck Accident Lawyers if you have ever experienced a personal injury and think others are at fault for the accident.
=========================

Next Page