Have You Lost a Loved One Due to Negligence by Another? Speak With our Experienced Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer
One of the most tragic experiences people must face is the loss of a loved one. Yet, when the loss is the result of another person’s negligence, the sting of the loss is amplified. During the period of grief, it is difficult to focus on anything other than the loss of the loved one. However, over time the sorrow begins to subside and the family’s thoughts may turn to unanswered questions about their loss.
The state of Texas allows those who have lost a loved one because of the actions of a third party to seek a wrongful death claim to compensate for the losses that were suffered as a result of that death. It makes no difference if the death was caused by negligence or recklessness, a defective product or medical malpractice, legal action can be initiated. The individual allowed to bring a legal action is defined by state law. Some states only allow the spouse and children to file a wrongful death claim while some permit grandparents and other relatives to bring a lawsuit against the liable party. Additionally, some restrictions have been put in place by states that prevent one family member from suing another family member for the wrongful death of a third family member.
Is Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit the Right Thing to Do?
In many instances bereaved families who have suffered the loss of a loved one through the negligence of another are too distraught to consider the idea of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. They may feel that it is not worth the effort because it will not bring their loved one back. However, they may not be aware that filing a wrongful death lawsuit is an available option. Nevertheless, there are significant reasons for a family member to consider bringing a legal action. These reasons include:
Bringing a wrongful death lawsuit serves to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions or inactions that resulted in the death of their loved one.
The negligent party can be punished financially by the lawsuit with the goal of changing the party’s behavior so that similar accidents of this nature can be avoided.
A lawsuit allows the family to seek compensation in order to relieve the financial burden that often occurs after the loss of a loved one. The compensation is especially important when the loved one was the primary wage earner in the family.
When a Texas wrongful death attorney accepts your case, he has two goals in mind. First, he will put forth every effort to obtain fair compensation for your loss. Secondly, he will ensure that the liable parties are made to realize the consequences of their negligent behavior.
Although we have over twenty years of experience in the area of wrongful death litigation, we never lose sight of the fact that nothing will replace your loved one. However, it is our hope that you will allow us to use our expertise to help your family to recover from any financial loss that may have been incurred by the death of your loved one.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Compensation
The primary goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is to obtain compensation for the damages the bereaved family has experienced as the result of losing their loved one. In wrongful death lawsuits, damages refer to the financial losses the family may have sustained. Wrongful death damages and survival damages are the two types of damages that may be sought from the defendant. It is very important that the sum of these two types of damages be included in the wrongful death lawsuit in order to receive fair and reasonable compensation from the responsible party.
Items related with the bereaved family members’ loss of their loved one are considered to be wrongful death damages. These damages can be sought by the loved one’s spouse, children, parents or other dependents. There can be multiple parties seeking wrongful death damages in the same lawsuit.
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Wrongful death damages include:
Medical bills incurred before the death of the decedent
Monetary loss that was previously supplied by the decedent
Mental and emotional stress caused by the loss of a loved one
Loss of consortium which is the loss of the unique love provided by only the decedent
Conversely, only the decedent’s closest living relative can seek survival damages. Survival damages can include damages the decedent would have incurred had he been able to survive the accident. In this scenario, both wrongful death and survival damages can be claimed by the same person just as long as the person is the decedent’s closest surviving relative. Further, only one person can seek survival damages. In these instances, the closest living relative is essentially taking the decedent’s place in the pursuit of survival damages. The order in which survival damages may be sought begins with the spouse followed by the children, parents, and siblings. Any or all of the following can comprise survival damages:
Medical costs before the decedent’s death
Property damage costs that may have been incurred
Loss of future earning capacity if the decedent had possibly suffered a long-term disability
The pain and suffering of the decedent
The decedent’s mental and emotional stress
To be sure that all plaintiffs are fully compensated for their loss, all the damages must be proven. When different plaintiffs are owed differing amounts of compensation, various legal strategies must be utilized in order to properly calculate compensation amounts. It is for this reason that legal representation of a highly skilled wrongful death attorney be sought. The Texas wrongful death attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to assist you with the task of ensuring that your family receives fair compensation for your loss.
When is the Right Time to Pursue a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The merit of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can be quite difficult for the bereaved family to determine. A legitimate wrongful death lawsuit is based on four elements. These elements are:
The loved one was killed by the action or inaction of a liable party or parties.
The negligent action of the liable parties caused the fatal accident.
The decedent has surviving family members or beneficiaries that can seek wrongful death or survival damages.
Some type of financial loss has been incurred by the decedent or the surviving family members as a result of the accident.
If any of these elements are missing, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be pursued. Should you be unsure of your situation in regard to these qualifications, you should contact the Texas wrongful death attorneys at 1(800) 862-1260 for a free consultation.
It is also important to know that you can seek a wrongful death lawsuit against a liable party even if that party is may be facing criminal charges related to the accident. In other words, if a driver becomes distracted and runs into a pedestrian that causes the pedestrian to die, the driver would most likely not face criminal charges. However, the pedestrian’s family could initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver for his negligent actions that led to the pedestrian’s death. Alternatively, if the driver was drunk at the time of the accident, then it is highly likely that criminal charges would be filed.
In this situation, the decedent’s family could file a wrongful death lawsuit. In other instances when criminal charges are not filed against the liable party, a wrongful death civil suit is the only way to hold the liable party accountable for his negligent actions.
Challenges Encountered in the Pursuit of Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits
As with everything, bringing a wrongful death lawsuit has its challenges. However, it should be remembered that there are differences between being surprised by the challenges and being prepared for them. With the extensive experience they possess, the wrongful death attorneys of our Law Firms are quite familiar with the issues that can arise in wrongful death lawsuits. This being the case, they can help you resolve these challenges so that your claim will not be denied or dismissed. To illustrate, wrongful death lawsuits are quite often worth a great deal of money. Consequently, the insurance adjusters and the attorneys for the defendant will do use every strategy they know to exonerate themselves or the defendant. Simply put, they do not want to award such a large compensation amount that could significantly impact their bottom line. These individuals are more often concerned with their own financial interests than attempting to help the bereaved family through a very trying time. For this reason alone, having the assistance of an experienced Texas wrongful death attorney can be vitally important. To gain a successful outcome of your lawsuit, you must have an attorney that is completely familiar with the opposition’s strategies. Additionally, you need someone who can be aggressive when the situation dictates so that your rights can be protected. It is a known fact that the insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will be extremely qualified, experienced, and completely prepared to tackle your case. It only makes good sense for you to have legal representation that has the expertise to match that of the opposition before taking on these high-powered professionals.
Another challenge to overcome in preparing a successful wrongful death case is time itself. Crucial evidence can be removed, deleted, erased or altered by those who do not want to be caught. With the passage of time, witnesses can be hard to track down. To overcome this obstacle, it is beneficial to obtain the legal representation of a highly experienced Texas wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. Once the attorney accepts the case, he will launch an exhaustive investigation into the accident and evidence will be obtained to build a substantial case on behalf of your loved one. In short, the best way to build a strong case is to contact a Texas wrongful death attorney right away.
When You Can Sue a Family Member for Wrongful Death
Some differences among the states exist concerning the circumstances in which family members may be sued for wrongful death actions. In some states, limited parental immunity exists for injuries resulting from a parent providing ordinary care to a child. Even in cases where state law permits one family member to be sued, that person can only be sued if he or she was negligent and responsible for causing a death. For example, if a woman was killed in a car accident in which her husband was driving, he could only be sued if he was at fault or found to be responsible for causing the accident. A wrongful death lawsuit asserts that the victim died as a result of negligence on the part of the person being sued, and that the victim’s survivors are entitled to financial compensation as a result of that negligence.
This type of claim differs from a general negligence lawsuit, which is filed by the person injured for compensation. Originally, a wrongful death claim did not exist based upon the idea that the claim died with the victim. Consequently, there was no way to compensate the victim. Accordingly, the surviving family members were not allowed to claim damages from the individual who caused the victim’s death. However, over the years, wrongful death laws have been passed by the states that provide compensation to those who may have been damaged from the death of the decedent. Today, some form of a wrongful death claim action exists in all the states.
Although the state’s “wrongful death laws” were created independently of each other, they all follow the same basic principles. The elements of each claim include:
The death was caused, in whole or part, by the actions of the defendant
The defendant was negligent or liable for the victim’s death
There is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents
Monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Very often, medical malpractice cases are never filed due to the attachment patients have to their doctors. Patients place a huge amount of faith and trust in the doctor’s abilities and decision-making skills and patients don’t want to admit that an error on the part of the doctor accounts for their pain and suffering, or for the avoidable loss of a loved one. Since the primary role of doctors and other medical professionals is to work every day to save lives, many patients feel guilty about placing blame when something goes wrong. However, things do go wrong and when mistakes are made that can affect the rest of your life, you need to consult with a medical malpractice attorney.
Medical malpractice cases present specific challenges. For example, Texas medical malpractice tort reform has placed a limit on the amount of damages that you can receive for the loss of your loved one due to medical malpractice. In these situations, while working to hold the medical professional accountable for his actions, our firm will also be trying to identify the involvement of any other parties that might be responsible. This is done due to the fact that limits are not placed on the amount of compensation that can be received from other liable parties. Due to the amount of work involved in these types of wrongful death cases, many Texas attorneys choose not to accept medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice attorneys with our Law Firms welcome the opportunity to work diligently so that you can be in a position to receive full and fair compensation for the loss of your loved one and so that similar instances of medical malpractice by the same negligent medical professional will not occur.
Types of Medical Malpractice Suits
As is commonly known, a large number of medical malpractice lawsuits are filed each year. Four common types of medical malpractice exist and each of these are listed below.
Prescription Drug Errors: Prescription drug errors are one of the most common forms of medical malpractice. When a prescription drug error causes harm to a patient, a medical malpractice claim can be filed. A number of people can be liable in these types of cases. They include:
Doctors who prescribe medication.
Healthcare or nursing staff who administer drugs.
Pharmacists who fill prescriptions.
Prescription drug companies, manufacturers, and marketers.
These individuals and entities can be held liable for a number of mistakes or missteps, including:
Prescribing or administering the wrong medication.
Prescribing or administering the wrong dosage.
Failure to reasonably foresee detrimental complications, such as harmful drug interaction.
Manufacturing and marketing defective or unreasonably unsafe medications.
Writing illegible prescriptions that lead to patient harm.
Birth Defects Medical Malpractice: Any type of medical treatment provided by a healthcare professional before or during the birth process can lead to a medical malpractice claim, if the care does not meet the accepted medical standards which results in harm to the baby and or the mother. However, it should be noted that harm to the baby or the mother does not automatically mean that medical malpractice has happened. The question of whether the doctor and other healthcare providers acted in a manner that was consistent with a reasonable level of care should be asked in order to determine if malpractice has occurred.
Some of the more common types of birth injury include:
Many other factors may cause injuries to the babies and their mothers during childbirth.
Forceps or vacuum used incorrectly
Doctor failure to prepare for danger in a higher-risk pregnancy
Prescribed medication put the mother or baby at unreasonable risk of harm
Inadequate monitoring of the baby’s condition
Doctor did not plan for a C-section when it was medically necessary to avoid harm
Surgical and Diagnostic Errors: Misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, or failure to diagnose are examples of diagnosis errors that can result in medical malpractice claims. Regarding surgical errors, medical malpractice can arise when a doctor, during surgery, inadvertently causes damage to an internal organ, blood vessel, or other body part that results in severe injury or problems. There are times when these types of mistakes will not appear until weeks or months after the surgery.
Worker’s Comp Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When a worker is killed on the job, specific challenges can arise. If the worker’s employer is found liable for the accident and the employer is subscribed to worker’s compensation, then the bereaved family can seek compensation through the worker’s compensation process. Unfortunately, the amount of compensation is often is insufficient to cover the family’s financial losses. In these circumstances, the attorneys with our Law Firms will investigate the fatal workplace accident in an attempt to determine whether or not other liable parties, not protected by worker’s comp, were involved in the accident. If the worker’s comp employer was found to be grossly negligent in causing or contributing to a fatal on-the-job accident, then the worker’s comp policy no longer applies. As a result, a bereaved family can sue the employer. However, proving gross negligence on the part of the employer is not easy. It requires a high standard of proof that can show that the employer was aware that an accident could happen and did nothing to correct the situation. On the other hand, if the employer is not covered by worker’s compensation, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against the employer. In either situation, specific legal knowledge of complex Texas work injury laws is critical for a successful outcome of a worker’s comp wrongful death lawsuits is to be achieved. With a wealth of experience in both wrongful death and worker’s compensation cases, Texas wrongful death attorneys can assist the bereaved family to obtain justice against the employer and seek compensation from the liable parties.
Texas Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
Losing a loved one is a very traumatic event that comes to us all at one time or another. During these upsetting times it seems that our minds are going in a thousand different directions all at once.
However, despite the fact that it feels as if our world has stopped, the rest of the world continues to move forward. There are so many pressing decisions that must be made that it is difficult to know what should be done first. We can help you during this emotionally frustrating time to seek justice from the responsible parties so that future fatal accidents can be avoided and the grief you are now experiencing will not be inflicted on other families. Our Texas wrongful death attorneys will diligently work to make sure that your family receives full compensation for your loss so that financial worries will not be added to your grief and sorrow. Having over two decades of experience in confronting veteran insurance adjusters, the attorneys with our Law Firms are capable of getting the adjusters to agree to a fair out-of-court settlement for your wrongful death case. In these situations, you are spared the time and expense of taking your claim to court. On the other hand, if a trial becomes necessary, you can rest assured that our attorneys are completely prepared to defend your loved one’s rights as well as your own in this setting. In situations where the defense attorneys attempt to place the blame for the accident on your loved one, our attorneys can take an aggressive stance against such a strategy.
If you are considering pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties liable for the death of your loved one and have any questions about the procedures involved, the merit of your case, etc., you may contact the Texas wrongful death attorneys with our Law Firms at 1(800) 862-1260 toll free for a free and confidential legal consultation.
Tolling and the Statute of Limitations
Tolling a statute of limitations is often very important for people involved in personal injury cases. We’ve blogged about the statute of limitations in personal injury cases before, but it’s a good idea to go over the basics. Essentially, a statute of limitations is a ticking clock that applies to your case. After you suffer an injury, you have to file your case within the amount of time specified by your state’s statute of limitations or you are prevented from doing so. With tolling, the time you have to file a lawsuit is effectively extended.
Stopping the Clock
When we talk about tolling the statute of limitations, what we are talking about is putting the statute of limitations ticking clock on pause. Tolling allows people to suspend or delay the statute of limitations time limit. Depending on your circumstances, there can be several reasons why you might be able to pause the statute of limitations and give yourself more time than you would otherwise have to file a lawsuit.
For example, minors who suffer personal injuries cannot file a lawsuit on their own. They have to have an adult guardian, parent, or some other adult file on their behalf. However, if a parent or guardian fails to file a lawsuit in time, the minor is not necessarily out of luck. This is because the statute of limitations is tolled when a minor suffers an injury.
So, let’s say a 16-year-old suffers a personal injury. The child’s parents do not file a lawsuit on behalf of the 16-year-old. A couple of years pass and the child turns 18. In this situation, the statute of limitations clock is tolled or paused and only begins counting down again after the child becomes an adult.
Tolling and Discovery
Similar to tolling is the idea that the statute of limitations clock doesn’t start running until you have discovered your injury. For example, let’s say that you had your inflamed appendix removed. During that surgery, your doctor mistakenly left a surgical sponge in your abdomen. However, you had no way of knowing that the sponge was there, and didn’t discover it until three years after your surgery.
In this situation, the statute of limitations clock won’t likely start ticking until you discover the injury. Even though the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in your state might only be two years, you can still file a lawsuit because you didn’t discover the injury until after those two years had passed.
Tolling and Your Case
Tolling is one of those issues that can sometimes be difficult to apply. Every personal injury case is different, and determining what statute of limitations applies will depend on several different factors. Additionally, knowing if the statute of limitations can be tolled, and if so, how that affects your case, is something that only an experienced personal injury attorney can help with. Even if you don’t believe you can still file a case because of the statute of limitations, you should talk to a personal injury attorney in your area for legal advice.
What is a Confidential Settlement?
There is so much that goes on in the personal injury lawsuit process that it can seem very strange to people who are not familiar with it. One of these is the confidential settlement agreement. Even though not all personal injury lawsuits result in settlements, and not all settlements are confidential, knowing what a confidential settlement is can help you understand how the personal injury lawsuit process works.
Demand Letters, Lawsuits, Trials, and Settlements
When people get hurt they often visit a lawyer so they can file a lawsuit. But the personal injury lawsuit process doesn’t necessarily begin immediately thereafter. In many, if not most, personal injury cases, the case begins after your lawyer sends a demand letter to the defendant. (The defendant is the person or organization you believe caused your injuries.) The demand letter states the basis for any lawsuit you might file, explains the nature of your injuries, and asks the defendant to pay money in compensation.
If the defendant doesn’t agree to your demands, you can then file a lawsuit. After filing the lawsuit, both sides will begin the discovery process. During the discovery process, each side will try to uncover the facts of the case. After discovery ends and your case goes to trial, you will present evidence to try to show that the defendant is at fault for your injuries.
At any stage of this process, from the demand letter to before the trial ends, you and the defendant can agree to a settlement. Settlement agreements usually involve the defendant agreeing to pay you (the plaintiff) money, while you agree to drop your lawsuit and release the defendant from any further liability.
When the two sides of a lawsuit agree to a settlement, they set out the terms in a document called the settlement agreement. For example, settlement agreements typically begin with a brief statement of the history of the lawsuit, then state the terms to which the two sides agree. The agreement will also state the exact amount of money the defendant agrees to pay and state that the plaintiff will agree to dismiss the lawsuit.
The agreement might also state what, if anything, either side of the lawsuit is allowed to say after they agree to the settlement terms. Settlement agreements that contain these restrictions are known as confidential settlements.
A confidential settlement can place any number of restrictions on what the parties (defendant and plaintiff) can say about the case. For example, the confidential settlement agreement might state that the plaintiff cannot say how much money he or she won in the settlement. It might also state that the defendant does not admit to engaging in any wrongful activity and that the defendant is allowed to say so in any public statement they choose to make.
The terms of any settlement agreement, as well as the restrictions imposed by a confidentiality clause, can be very complicated. If you ever need advice about a potential settlement or have legal questions of any kind, you should speak with a personal injury attorney right away.
What Can I Tell My Personal Injury Lawyer? | The Personal Injury Blog
When people first visit or speak to a personal injury lawyer, they often have a lot of questions they want answered. One common question involves exactly what their attorney is allowed to reveal regarding privacy. If you talk to your attorney, what does your attorney have to keep private, and what can he or she reveal to others?
All of these questions hinge on the idea of attorney-client confidentiality. This idea is one of the most basic concepts running throughout the modern legal system, and is something that everyone should know about before talking to a lawyer.
The basic idea of attorney–client confidentiality is this; when someone talks to an attorney for legal advice, the attorney cannot reveal the statements that person makes to the attorney without that person’s permission. Not even a court can order an attorney to reveal this information, and by withholding it, the attorney does not violate the law. In fact, because attorneys must be licensed by the state to practice law, they have a legal obligation to keep client information confidential.
In order for someone to have confidential conversations with an attorney, several factors must be present. First, the person you talk to has to be a licensed lawyer. Second, the communication can only be between yourself and your attorney, not other people. Third, confidentiality only exists if you are actually a client of the attorney, or spoke to the attorney in an attempt to become a client. Fourth, you can only engage in confidential discussions if you are seeking legal advice, and not if you are trying to commit a criminal act. Finally, if you and your attorney engage in confidential discussions, only you have the ability to decide if your lawyer is allowed to reveal the confidential information.
In practical terms, attorney-client confidentiality simply means that your lawyer has a legal obligation to keep private what you discuss in private. If you decide to go to court, or sue someone, much of what you say will likely become open to discovery. This means that the other side will likely be able to find out exactly what the facts are in the case. In practical terms, this means that most everything that happens in a personal injury case will become public knowledge, or at least become known to each side in the lawsuit process.
Further, it’s important to realize that not every conversation you have with your lawyer will be confidential. For example, if you and your attorney have a discussion in a public place where others can overhear you, that discussion is not confidential.
Obtaining Confidential Advice
If you ever have a question about attorney–client privilege and the issue of confidential discussions, you should bring those questions up to your lawyer. You always need to be confident that your personal injury attorney is doing everything he or she can to help you. Maintaining privileged conversations is part of that relationship.
If you or someone you know is the victim of a personal injury and are seeking the advice of an attorney, be sure to contact a reputable personal injury attorney in your area immediately.
What is Tort Reform?
Though a lot of people might have heard the term “tort reform,” many don’t have a good idea of what it really is. Tort reform has been a popular term in recent years and is regularly popping up in news stories and political discussions. To get a better idea of what tort reform is and how it might affect you, here are some basic questions about it.
What is a tort?
A tort is a wrongdoing under the law. A tort is a type of harm or injury that the law allows someone to recover. Torts do not typically arise out of agreements or contracts made between people, but rather out of injuries or harms people do to one another.
For example, let’s say you are injured in a car crash. The other driver was drunk at the time and the court finds that the driver is responsible for your injuries. If you want to recover money for your damages, you can sue that other driver because he committed a tort.
It’s important to note that a tort is very different from a criminal case. Only prosecutors can decide to file criminal charges. However, regardless of a prosecutor’s decision, someone injured by someone else’s intentional or negligent actions can choose to file a tort lawsuit.
What is tort reform?
If a tort is a kind of lawsuit, “tort reform” is a term that describes various ways to limit these types of tort lawsuits. Tort reforms are legal initiatives that are designed to change how courts handle tort cases.
For example, some states have adopted tort reforms that impose damage limitations in personal injury cases. These limitations typically apply to what are known as “non-economic” damages. Non-economic damages apply when someone suffers harm, but that harm is not easily measurable.
For example, let’s say that, as the result of a medical procedure gone wrong, you lose the ability to have sexual relations. There is no easy dollar figure that applies to this type of harm, though it does significantly affect your ability to enjoy life. If you live in a state with tort reforms that have limited non-economic damages, your ability to recover money for the harm you suffered in this type of case will be reduced.
What does tort reform mean to me?
Lawsuits are subject to a number of limitations. You cannot, for example, sue someone for a personal injury if you have waited too long because your state’s statute of limitations requires you to act within a limited amount of time.
If you live in a state that has adopted tort reform laws, your ability to file a lawsuit, or your ability to seek compensation for your injuries, will be subject to additional limitations. Whether those limitations apply to your ability to recover money for the losses you suffered, your ability to file a lawsuit, or impose other restrictions, the type of tort reform that applies to you and your case will differ depending on where you live and what kind of case you have.
If you feel you have a potential lawsuit and you have questions regarding tort reform in your area, be sure to call a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible.
What if I Lose My Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you’ve never been involved in the legal process before, the idea of losing a personal injury case and then appealing the judgment can seem daunting. Is it even possible to file an appeal in your situation? If so, how? How do appeals work? Will it mean you will have to go through a trial again?
These and many other questions are very common when people lose a personal injury lawsuit. Though you should always speak to your attorney about the possibility of appeal, here is some basic information you can use to help you get a better understanding of how appeals work.
Deciding to File a Personal Injury Appeal
Let’s start with an example. Let’s say that you suffered an injury after slipping and falling on private property. You then sue the property owner because you suffered an injury that required you to pay for extensive medical care, treatment, and rehabilitation costs. You filed your case, engaged in settlement negotiations, and when those negotiations didn’t work, you went to trial. After presenting your case the jury ruled against you. Now what?
Now, you have to decide if you want to file an appeal. An appeal, unlike a trial, doesn’t involve either you or the defendant presenting evidence. Instead, when you file an appeal your lawyer will file what is known as a brief. In this brief, the attorney will argue certain legal points. Depending on the kind of case you have, your attorney might, for example, argue that the trial court judge made a mistake when he ruled that certain evidence was or was not permissible.
The key distinction here is to know that if you file an appeal you are essentially making an argument with a different court that the trial court made a mistake.
Depending on the circumstances of your case and the legal questions involved, you might not use the same attorney you had when you went to trial. Some attorneys specialize in personal injury trials and settlement negotiations but don’t handle appeals.
On the other hand, some attorneys specialize in researching, writing, and arguing appeals before appellate courts. Whether you should use your current attorney or find another lawyer to help with the appeal is something you’ll have to decide.
Because an appeal is not a trial, you might be wondering what an appellate court can do for you. There are three basic outcomes that can usually result from the case of an appeal.
Affirm. When an appeals court hears a case and decides that the trial court did not make a mistake, it will affirm the trial court’s decision. This means that the appeals court will not do anything to change or modify what the trial court decided.
Remand. In some situations, the appeals court will determine that the trial court used the wrong legal standard when making a decision. When this happens, the appeals court can remand the case back to the trial court, essentially ordering a new trial or a new part of a trial.
Reverse. If the appeals court agrees with you and says the trial court made a mistake, it can also reverse or overturn the trial court’s decision and rule in your favor.
Of course, the outcome that you might be able to achieve with your personal injury appeal is not something you will be able to determine on your own. You should only decide to file an appeal after consulting with your attorney, weighing your options, and thinking about what you feel is best for you.
What is a Contingency Fee?
When people visit a personal injury attorney for the first time, they’re often worried about the costs. What if you don’t have the money to pay legal fees? If you don’t have enough money, do you have any other options?
Contingency fees are designed to address these concerns. A contingency fee is an agreement between you and your lawyer in which the lawyer agrees to only get paid if you win your case. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
How Contingency Fees Work
Let’s say you suffered serious injuries after being attacked by someone else. You want to sue the person who attacked you for your medical expenses, your loss of income, and other damages you’ve incurred. Unfortunately, you don’t have any money to hire a lawyer. You have, however, heard that some personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency basis.
So, you go visit a local attorney. The attorney tells you that she will work on a contingency basis and that you won’t have to worry about legal fees unless you win. This is how contingency fees work. If a lawyer agrees to work for you on a contingent basis, that lawyer is saying that you will not have to pay any legal fees until you win your case. If and when you win, the lawyer will take a percentage of your winnings as your fee.
Agreement and Percentage Fees
When a lawyer and client enter into a contingency fee arrangement, they typically do so with a document called a fee agreement. The agreement is a kind of contract that sets out the terms of the contingency fee relationship. The agreement will state, for example, that the attorney is entitled to receive a certain percentage of any winnings you receive out of the case. Though the specific percentage the agreement states will differ from state to state and from attorney to attorney, it’s typically about thirty percent.
So, for example, let’s say you hire an attorney on a contingency basis. The attorney files a lawsuit, you go through the discovery process, and eventually, the two sides agree to settle for $100,000. If the contingency fee agreement stated that the attorney is entitled to thirty percent of any settlement or judgment, you would pay your attorney $30,000, and keep the remaining $70,000 for yourself.
Contingency Fees and Costs
It’s important to realize that there might be some additional costs involved with your lawsuit, even if you agree to a contingency fee arrangement. Many attorneys require, for example, that the client pays for necessary expenses, such as the cost of filing the lawsuit, travel expenses, and other costs that might arise.
Whenever you talk to a lawyer, it’s important that you discuss the fee arrangement in as much detail as possible. You need to be clear about the terms of the agreement, how much your attorney is entitled to receive should you win, and what, if any, fees or costs you’ll be responsible for paying.
When in an accident, it is always best to speak to a reputable personal injury attorney in your area to determine if you have a case and how much that case could be potentially worth.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
In personal injury cases, people who have suffered an injury must act quickly to protect their interests because of laws known as statutes of limitations. If you ever speak to a personal injury attorney about your case, your attorney will tell you that your time to take action is limited. Every state has a statute of limitations that requires you to file your lawsuit within a specific amount of time. If you fail to act before time is up, you will be prevented from recovering compensation for your injuries.
Statutes of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases
Every state has laws that limit when people can take various legal actions. These laws are generally referred to as statutes of limitations.
For example, if you speed down the highway, there is a limited amount of time in which the state can charge you with a traffic offense. Depending on the state in which you live, this amount of time can differ significantly. Similarly, if you suffer an injury you have a limited amount of time in which you can file a lawsuit.
Most states have statutes of limitations that impose a 2 to a 4-year time limit on personal injury cases. However, a few states have statutes of limitations that are as brief as one year, while a small number gives people up to 6 years to file.
Starting the Clock
In order to determine how long you have to file a lawsuit, you have to know two basic facts. First, you have to know what your state’s statute of limitations is. Second, you have to know the date when you first learned that you suffered an injury. This date is when the statute of limitations clock begins counting down.
The “discovery of the injury” date is when the person who was harmed first learns that he or she has been injured. However, the test here is not actually determining what the injured person might have known, but also what he or she should have known.
For example, let’s say you go to your dentist to have a cavity fixed. After you leave you notice that you have significant pain in your jaw. Even though you understand you are in pain, you wait several years before you go to see another dentist about your jaw pain. You discover that the pain is due to a mistake the first dentist made when fixing your cavity.
In this type of situation, you learned of the discovery when you first experienced the pain caused by the original dentist’s mistake. If you wait too long to sue the dentist, the statute of limitations will prevent you from pursuing your case.
Pausing the Clock
In some cases, it’s possible to put a pause on the statute of limitation’s ticking clock. This is known as tolling. However, like the differences in time limits imposed, states have significant differences when allowing people to toll the statute of limitations.
If you have been injured and need more information about what laws apply to you in your situation, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney in your area immediately.
What Should You Ask When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney?
After sustaining injuries in a car accident, it is important to find an attorney to protect your interests and work on your behalf to ensure that you receive appropriate compensation; however, not all attorneys are alike. And, although all have received extensive legal training and are held to the same standards, one attorney may have a specific set of skills that are best suited to the needs of your case. Deciding on the right attorney for your claim can appear to be an overwhelming task, but it does not need to be. Following a few simple steps can help you find the right attorney to fit your needs.
As with any legal situation, you will want to find someone who is well-versed in all aspects of car accident laws and who has a proven track record of success handling claims similar to yours. Once you have narrowed down your list, schedule an initial consultation with each attorney. These meetings are almost always offered to potential clients free of charge, and provide an opportunity for you to gain valuable knowledge about the attorney’s experience, qualifications, legal style, strategies for cases like yours, and fees.
During your initial consultation, do not be afraid to ask questions. Remember, you are the one in charge of making this important decision, therefore you have the right to know the information you need to make an informed choice. While many questions could, and should, be asked, the following important questions will go a long way in helping you determine the skill, ability, and dedication of your attorney:
How long have you practiced law?
What percentage of your caseload pertains to car accidents?
What percentage of your caseload is settled out of court?
Knowing the length of time your attorney has been in practice will help you gain a better understanding of his or her level of experience. By finding out what percentage of their cases involve car accidents, you can gauge how familiar the attorney likely is with the issues that might arise in your case. For example, an attorney who only devotes 10% of her client base to car accident cases will likely not have as much pertinent experience as one whose practice is solely devoted to representing victims of car accidents. Finally, knowing how often the attorney settles their cases, as compared to taking them to trial, might serve as an indicator of their negotiating skills, litigation skills, and dedication to their clients.
Other things are also important to know. It is vital to ask a prospective attorney to explain their strategy for handling car accident cases. Attorneys with experience representing victims of car accidents will have a well-established process that they implement and follow for all car accident-related cases. They will be well-versed in accidents laws, insurance laws and regulations, and be familiar with time limits for filing claims such as yours. Also be sure to ask about the role that other attorneys and paralegals in the firm might play, and ensure that the main case-management duties will be the responsibility of the most qualified and experienced attorney, not his or her junior staff.
In addition to strategic discussions, you should also ask the attorney if he or she believes that your case has merit. Understand that in order to have a valid personal injury claim, you must be able to prove that you sustained an injury as a result of the car accident, that the other driver’s negligence (or their vehicle’s malfunction) was the cause of your injuries, and that your injuries are able to be quantified in terms of money (damages). A knowledgeable and experienced attorney will be able to tell you if sufficient evidence exists to establish these three key bases for a valid claim, as well as what the possibility of recovering damages might be.
The main question in the minds of anyone who consults an attorney is fees. The fear of costly litigation can serve as a deterrent to many, but it does not have to. In fact, many car accident attorneys work on contingency, meaning that they receive their fee as a portion of your eventual compensation from the defendant. Nevertheless, it is prudent to ask the attorney to clearly explain to you their fees, any personal expenses you will incur, the firm’s billing practices, and the methods of payment that they accept.
When a Loved One Suffers Abuse in a Nursing Home
The idea of a loved one being abused while living in a nursing home, assisted living center, or other elder care environment is a difficult thought to deal with. As more and more Americans reach retirement age every day and the average lifespan keeps increasing, the chances that you or a family member will have to live in a nursing home are high. But, many people don’t realize that nursing home and elder abuse is a growing, and unfortunately common, a problem for many seniors.
Abuse, Neglect, and Malpractice
An elderly person who is injured in a nursing home or elder care facility can often sue that facility when its actions directly led to the harms the elderly person suffered. These types of cases are typically divided into one of three types: abuse, neglect, and malpractice.
Abuse. When nursing home employees intentionally hurt a patient, that’s nursing home abuse. Abuse can result from a variety of circumstances, such as unreasonable confinement, physical or psychological intimidation, or the purposeful infliction of physical injuries. In some situations, nursing home workers even commit sexual abuse against the elderly resident. Nursing home abuse can result in either physical pain or mental and psychological anguish.
Neglect. Neglect is slightly different than abuse. In a neglect situation, an elderly person suffers harm because a nursing home employee didn’t act responsibly in providing the necessary care. Whether that employee failed to act or was indifferent to the elderly person’s suffering, neglect can also result in psychological or physical harm.
Malpractice. In some nursing home environments, it’s common for nurses, physicians, or other medical personnel to perform procedures and provide an elderly person with healthcare. Like in any medical situation, a healthcare professional who negligently performs a procedure or who doesn’t act under the appropriate standard of care can commit malpractice when an elderly person is hurt as a result.
It’s also unfortunately common for someone in a nursing home to be financially abused by nursing home employees. Financial elder abuse occurs when a nursing home employee takes the elderly person’s financial information and uses it for his or her own purposes.
For example, someone with access to the elderly person’s financial information might open up a new account in that person’s name or take money out of a bank account. In other situations, a nursing home can overcharge the elderly person for services never performed.
Know the Warning Signs
While you can never be absolutely certain that you will be able to protect your loved ones from suffering harm in a nursing home, you can learn to spot the warning signs of possible abuse. These signs include:
Unexplained bruises, broken bones, or other injuries.
Ankle rashes, wrist rashes, or bruises from restraints.
Sudden unexplained weight loss.
Repetitive rocking or mumbling.
Obvious signs of depression.
Withdrawal from family members or loved ones.
Obvious fear when in the presence of nursing home employees or specific people.
Unexplained financial losses or new loans.
If you suspect an elderly loved one has been victimized in a nursing home environment, you should contact your attorney at the first possible opportunity. You can also contact the Administration on Aging at 1-800-677-1116 for information about how to report elder abuse in your state.
What Happens if You’re Injured by a Dangerous Product?
Whether it’s a laptop with an overheated battery, a car with airbags that fail to deploy, or prescription medication that leads to serious side effects, consumers are constantly using a variety of products that can and do lead to injuries, harm, and even death.
When someone suffers an injury as the result of using a product, they often wonder if they can sue to recover damages. These types of cases are known as product liability cases. In order to prevail in such a case, consumers usually have to show that the product manufacturer is negligent.
Liability and Negligence
Not every injury you suffer as the result of using a product means that you will be able to recover damages for your injuries. In order to win your case, you will have to be able to show that the product’s manufacturer was negligent in some way. When a product manufacturer releases a product into the marketplace, it must be sure that the product is safe. If the manufacturer makes a mistake and releases a product that poses a danger to the consumer, it can be held liable for any harm caused by the product.
In product liability cases, the person suing the manufacturer, called the plaintiff, typically has to show one of three things:
The manufacturer made a defective product. Many product injury cases arise because a manufacturer doesn’t build a product correctly. For example, a chair missing an important screw or a piece of exercise equipment that isn’t assembled correctly can easily lead to someone getting hurt. In such a situation, the manufacturer is often held liable for those injuries because they manufactured a product with a defect and then sent it into the marketplace.
The manufacturer designed a dangerous product. In some situations, the manufacturer creates a product that is free from manufacturing defects, but the product nevertheless causes substantial harm. For example, a drug company that creates medication can create a flawed product because the drug is dangerous by its nature. Even if the drug company manufactures the drug correctly, safely, and ensures there are no contamination issues, the nature of the drug itself could be such that it causes consumers harm.
The manufacturer failed to include an adequate warning. Many products have inherent dangers but are nevertheless useful and desirable to consumers. For example, over-the-counter medications are easily available to the average consumer even though they are only suitable for certain purposes. A consumer who misuses over-the-counter drugs can easily suffer harm. This is why manufacturers include various warning labels on products that could pose a risk if misused by the consumer. When the manufacturer fails to include such a warning label and a person suffers an injury after using the product, the manufacturer can be held liable for those damages.
Talk To An Experienced Attorney
Product liability cases are often very complicated and require not only an understanding of the law but also federal and state regulations, recent court rulings, the manufacturing and design process, as well as a host of other very technical areas of expertise. If you’ve been injured after using a product you need to speak to a product liability attorney as soon as possible. You may not necessarily be able to recover money for your injuries, but only an experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case and give you advice about your options.
What is an ‘Assumption of Risk’ and Why Does it Matter?
In some personal injury cases, the ‘assumption of risk’ defense becomes an issue. While assumptions of risk are not something that everyone who suffers a personal injury has to worry about, the issue can significantly impact your ability to recover money for the injuries you suffered. Today, we are going to take a close look at the assumption of risk, what it means, and why, if you have suffered a personal injury, you need to understand it.
When you talk about assumptions of risk and personal injury cases, you’re talking about torts. Torts are a type of lawsuit that can arise after someone suffers harm or injuries because of someone else’s negligent or intentional behavior. When someone suffers an injury in this situation, the law allows that person to sue the wrongdoer to recover damages (money) for his or her injuries. A tort lawsuit involves the injured person (the plaintiff), suing the wrongdoer, (the defendant).
A legal defense in a tort case is essentially a valid excuse. When a defendant uses a legal defense in a tort case, the defendant is effectively admitting that he or she did do something that caused the plaintiff to suffer an injury, nevertheless, the plaintiff is prevented from recovering damages. When a defendant uses a legal defense, it’s up to the defendant to prove that the conditions of the defense have been met.
In other words, though a plaintiff has to show that the defendant caused the harm that is the subject of the lawsuit, a defendant who wants to use a legal defense has to prove that the defense applies to the case.
For example, let’s say that a friend takes you hiking. During the hike, you injure your ankle. You decide to sue your friend for the medical expenses and lost income that resulted from your injured ankle.
In this case, your friend could probably use an assumption of risk defense to show that because you knew that what you were doing was potentially dangerous, you shouldn’t be able to recover damages from him.
Assumption of Risk and Tort Cases
The assumption of risk defense is one in which a defendant claims that the plaintiff would not have suffered the injury if the plaintiff hadn’t acted improperly. Essentially, a defendant who uses an assumption of risk defense is saying that the plaintiff did something that, at least in part, caused him or her to suffer the injuries in the case. Furthermore, because the plaintiff knew, or should have known, that what he or she did was dangerous or wrong, the plaintiff shouldn’t be allowed to recover money for those injuries.
Assumption of Risk and Your Personal Injury Case
Any time you are discussing legal issues, terminology, or defenses, it’s vital that you talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area. The average person does not have nearly enough experience or training in the law to determine how various potential legal issues might affect their case. The only way to know for certain if an assumption of risk defense, or any other issue, will play a role in your case is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
What is an Independent Medical Examination?
Personal injury cases can be stressful, complicated, and scary. Especially if you have never gone through a lawsuit or had to sue anyone before. One of the most important parts of the personal injury lawsuit process is being able to show the nature and extent of the injuries you’ve suffered. To do this, you’ll need to be able to show evidence, such as medical reports from the doctors who have examined your injuries.
However, your doctors will likely not be the only people who take a look at you. The other side in the lawsuit will also want to know the nature and extent of your injuries. They probably won’t want to rely on the word of your doctor. Therefore, to gather information about your injuries, the other side will have its own doctors exam you in an independent medical examination, or IME.
IME and Lawsuits
A person who files a personal injury lawsuit is known as a plaintiff. The plaintiff has a legal obligation to show that he or she has suffered an injury and that the defendant – the person the plaintiff is filing the lawsuit against – is legally responsible for paying for those injuries.
In any personal injury lawsuit, the defendant has the right to require the plaintiff to submit to an independent medical examination. This is true whether the plaintiff claims physical or psychological injuries. It’s also true whether you’re suing an individual, an organization, multiple individuals, or multiple organizations.
The Independent Medical Examination Process
The independent medical examination process is fairly simple. However, not only can the process be intimidating, the doctors who perform them may not always make a report that’s favorable to you or your cause.
Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s say you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident at a local business. You fell down stairs that were covered in oil, suffering an injury to your hip that resulted in medical expenses and painful rehabilitation. You sue the business for the harms you’ve suffered.
The business requests that you receive an independent medical examination from a doctor of its choice. (This doctor is usually selected by the defense attorney and paid by the defendant’s insurance company.) They tell you where the doctor is located, schedule an appointment in advance, and compensate you for the time and expense you incur traveling to the doctor. Once you get there, the doctor exams you and your injuries. The process will be like any other examination but will focus on the injuries you have claimed you sustained as a result of your accident.
Talk to a Lawyer Before Submitting to an IME
If the thought of going to a doctor paid by the other party in your lawsuit gives you pause; it should. IMEs can be stressful, and the doctors who perform them can be intimidating. If you’ve been asked to submit to an independent medical examination, you should talk to your attorney about what you need to do to prepare and protect yourself.
What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice
Each of us should feel lucky that we live in a time and place in which high-quality medical care is readily available. But what happens when you seek medical treatment and something goes wrong? What if you leave the hospital worse off than you were when you came in?
Though it is a relatively uncommon occurrence, medical professionals can hurt you if they fail to perform their duties properly. In such a situation you might be able to recover compensation for your injuries. These types of cases, known as medical malpractice or medical negligence cases, involve some key issues you need to know about.
Treatment, Mistakes, Negligence, and Standards of Care
Anytime you visit a doctor or health care provider there is a range of possible outcomes. You might, for example, go to the doctor, be properly diagnosed, receive adequate treatment, and come away from the experience as your normal, healthy self. Yet you might also receive treatment and be unhappy with the result, or actually suffer an injury because the doctor did something wrong. So when can you sue for medical malpractice?
The answer depends on a number of factors, but they all boil down to whether or not the doctor breached a medical standard of care. In any given medical situation there will be a level of care or treatment that reasonable, competent medical professionals in similar situations would apply. Negligence occurs when a medical professional in any situation acts contrary to that standard of care. Because standards of care can differ depending on the area in which you live, your age, and your particular medical circumstances, there is not always a clear dividing line between what is and what isn’t medical malpractice.
Even if you can show that a healthcare provider violated a standard of care, that doesn’t mean you automatically have a good medical malpractice case. In order to prevail in any case, you will have to show that you suffered some kind of damage.
Damages can include anything from additional medical expenses to compensate for the mental or physical pain you experienced because of the negligent actions. It can also include any wages you lost because you were out of work for longer than you should have been.
To recover those damages in a medical malpractice case you have to be able to show that those damages were the result of the malpractice. This is why so many medical malpractice cases involve complicated investigations and consultations with medical experts to determine what went wrong and how it affected you.
Not only that but depending on the state in which you live there may be limits on the amount of money you can win in any medical malpractice case. So, even if you can show the negligent actions resulted in significant damages, state law may limit you to a much smaller amount.
Experienced Attorney Analysis
Being hurt as a result of a medical procedure or treatment is one of the worst things a person can experience. Even if you don’t want to cause anyone trouble by filing a lawsuit, or don’t think you have a case, you need to be able to talk to an attorney before you make any serious decision. State laws impose time limits on when you can file a medical malpractice claim, and if you delay too long you may be out of luck. If you don’t speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney after you’ve suffered an injury you could damage your ability to recover what is rightfully yours.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ comp, short for workers’ compensation, is a system of workplace insurance coverage that protects workers who suffer injuries or illnesses because of their jobs. Every state, as well as the federal government, has its own workers’ compensation system, though all of them operate in essentially the same way. If you sustain an injury while on the job or are injured or become ill because of your work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation programs operate under a “no-fault” principle. This means that workers can receive compensation for their on-the-job injuries regardless of who or what caused those injuries. It isn’t necessary, for example, for someone who suffers an on-the-job injury to prove or show that someone else caused the injury, or that it resulted from the employer’s negligence.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t apply in every situation where someone suffers an injury while on the job. Even though state rules differ significantly about who is covered under workers’ compensation programs, it doesn’t cover every worker in the state. For example, many seasonal workers, contract or freelance workers, and domestic workers are not covered under state workers’ compensation laws.
Additionally, not every employer in the state is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. For example, while most states require that every company with at least one full or part-time employee must carry workers’ compensation insurance, other states say that such coverage doesn’t apply unless the company has at least three workers, or the total sum of the salaries the company pays its employees exceeds a specific amount.
On-The-Job or Job-Related?
A lot of people talk about workers’ compensation as applying to “on-the-job” injuries. This term is a little inaccurate. Workers’ compensation coverage applies to any illness or injury that is job-related. This means that you don’t have to suffer your illness or injury at your place of employment in order for workers’ compensation to apply.
For example, let’s say you work as a software developer and spend almost all of your time in your company’s office. However, once or twice a year you have to take a business trip to attend a software development conference. If you suffer an injury while traveling, this is usually covered by workers’ compensation.
Even if you work for an employer who has workers’ compensation insurance and you suffer a job-related injury or illness, you might still be able to file a lawsuit. When an employee suffers an injury because the employer was reckless or intentionally caused the injury, the worker can typically take the employer to court. In addition to suing for medical damages and lost wages, these lawsuits also involve the possibility of punitive damages, damages for the pain and suffering the worker suffered, as well as any mental anguish associated with the injury.
Of course, determining whether workers’ compensation is right for you or whether you can file a lawsuit against your employer is not something most people can do on their own. You should talk to a personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney for advice if you’ve suffered an injury while on the job.
When You’re Hurt by a Dog
Whether you’re a pet owner, animal lover, or simply someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the reality is that anyone can be the victim of a dog bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year. If you’ve been bitten, here are some practical steps you can take to protect yourself.
After a Bite: Taking Care of the Wound
Of the almost 5 million people bitten by dogs every year, only about 80,000 people seek medical attention, and half of those are children. If you or a loved one is bitten by an animal, the first thing you need to do is treat the injury.
Seek medical attention. If the wound is serious you need to seek medical attention immediately. Deep puncture wounds, wounds that won’t stop bleeding, or wounds that cause tearing or other injuries should prompt you to call your doctor or visit an emergency room. You should also seek medical attention if you believe the animal could have been infected with rabies. Bites from wild animals, especially bats, as well as domesticated animals that you are not familiar with or do not know the immunization status of, should also prompt you to see your doctor. It’s unlikely that any animal you come across carries rabies, but because of the disease’s serious nature, you always want to see your doctor after a bite from an animal that might be a rabies carrier.
Irrigate and bandage. Most minor dog bites do not require you to see a doctor, but you can take precautions to prevent the injury from becoming infected. Wash the wound with mild soap and water. Once clean, apply an antibiotic cream to the injured area and cover it with a sterile bandage.
Infections. In the days following the bite, monitor the wound, and change the bandage when necessary. If the wound becomes more tender to the touch or you notice redness, oozing, swelling, or more pain, you should contact your doctor because it may have become infected.
After a Bite: Gathering Information
A dog bite can also lead to legal problems for the owner, especially if the dog has bitten people before. If you don’t need to seek immediate medical attention for the bite, you should try to collect information to help you in the event that you need to try to collect compensation for any damages you’ve sustained.
Talk to the dog’s owner. You need to protect yourself first by getting as much information about the dog as possible. Talk to the owner and ask for his or her contact information. You should also find out as much as you can about the vaccination status of the animal, including contact information for the animal’s veterinarian.
Talk to witnesses. If there were others in the area who saw the bite occur, talk to them and ask for their contact information. Witnesses will be able to provide testimonial evidence if you ever have to go to court.
Contact animal control. If the owner isn’t nearby or you cannot identify the dog from its tag, you need to contact your city or county animal control department. The dog could pose a danger to others and may need to be quarantined to determine whether it’s carrying any diseases.
Consider Talking to a Lawyer
You may never have to sue anyone, but you need to be ready to protect your interests. If you’ve suffered pain, permanent damage, have had to miss work, or have had to pay medical expenses as a result of the bite, you need to talk to a local lawyer. A personal injury attorney in your area can evaluate your case and tell you what your legal options are.
What is a Demand Letter?
The personal injury lawsuit process doesn’t always end in a trial or even start with the filing of a lawsuit. In many situations, personal injury cases start, and end, with a well-constructed demand letter. What is the demand letter and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look.
Demand Letters: Your Case in Brief
The demand letter is something you, usually through your attorney, send to the other side in a lawsuit. (In a personal injury case, attorneys typically send demand letters to the insurance company representing the defendant.) The letter is essentially your case presented in a succinct form. It gets into the details of your case, shows why you would win if the case went to trial, and asks for a settlement.
Demand Letters: The Facts
Demand letters typically begin with a statement of the facts. This statement is essentially a story that tells what happened during the accident. For example, in a car accident case, the statement of facts would detail who was involved, where the accident took place, as well as details from the police report or a copy of the report itself.
Demand Letters: The Injury
In personal injury cases, demand letters include extensive details about the injuries you sustained. Medical records, bills, statements from witnesses, or statements from experts can be included to show the extent of your injuries. The evidence shows the other side how much you’ve suffered, the kind of medical treatment you’ve received, as well as the impact the accident and your injuries will have on your life.
Demand Letters: Damages
The term “damages” means the financial or monetary losses you suffer as a result of the accident or the injuries you sustained. This includes any money you had to pay as a result of medical bills or treatments. For example, if you were hospitalized as a result of the accident, your damages would include all the medical bills associated with your hospitalization. Damages can also include money you spent on physical therapy, rehab, and other related expenses.
Demand Letters: Lost Wages
Being involved in an accident usually means you miss work. Not only that but also the extent of your injuries could force you to be unable to return to work in the future. All of these lost wages get included in the demand letter.
Demand Letters: The Demand
All of the pieces you include in your demand letter, all the medical details, the lost wages, and the statement of the facts, is designed to get the other side to settle the case without the necessity of having to go to trial. Your demand letter allows you to decide to show the other side the kind of evidence you have and, more importantly, the kind of evidence you can show at trial to prove your case.
So, the final piece of this presentation is the actual demand. The demand is a dollar amount, a summary of all of the harm you’ve suffered and how much the other side can pay you to settle your claim.
The demand in a well-constructed letter follows logically from the facts and the evidence presented in the previous portions of the demand letter. Experienced attorneys know this, and crafting a demand letter that produces results is as much of an art as it is a science.
When Your Medication Harms You: Pharmaceutical Drug Liability
Prescription pharmaceutical names like Vioxx, Fen-Phen, and Baycol are primarily famous not because of the good they did, but because of the harm they caused. Pharmaceutical companies release dozens of new prescription medications every year, and every year more people suffer because of drug-related problems. Someone who suffers harm as the result of taking a prescription medication can often recover money for the injuries they’ve endured. Like other product liability cases, pharmaceutical drug cases typically involve a number of common elements.
The Chain of Distribution
A prescription drug is a complicated product, one that involves the participation of numerous people and organizations. When someone is hurt as the result of taking a prescription medication, finding out who was responsible involves looking at a lot of possible suspects.
Drug Manufacturers. Prescription drugs originate with the pharmaceutical companies that create them. These companies have a responsibility to make sure the product they create is safe and properly tested before they release it for consumer use. Even if the FDA approves the pharmaceutical for use, the manufacturer can still be held liable for problems associated with the drug.
Your Doctor. It’s up to your doctor to properly prescribe a prescription drug. Physicians are responsible for ensuring that you receive a prescription for a drug that meets your medical needs.
Your Pharmacist. While your doctor will prescribe the medication, it’s up to your pharmacist to ensure that you get the actual drugs. Pharmacists have to ensure that you receive the correct medication, that you know how to take it, and that your prescription bottles are properly labeled.
Just like any other consumer product, not all drugs are dangerous, and not all injuries that arise as the result of taking a pharmaceutical will lead to a successful lawsuit. In order to recover money for the harm you suffered, you will have to show that something went wrong. Here are some common reasons why people sue for damages caused by prescription drugs.
The manufacturer made a bad product. In some situations, a drug manufacturer will create a product that is manufactured incorrectly. For example, your doctor might give you a prescription for an antibiotic if you have some kind of infection. Antibiotics are normally rather safe, but if the manufacturer didn’t use the proper quality control systems at the factory, the antibiotics you receive might be tainted. While taking antibiotics normally wouldn’t be a problem, taking a tainted product could result in harm.
You receive an inadequate warning. Many prescription drugs have known side effects, some of which can be harmful to the consumer. Nevertheless, these drugs are useful and made available to the public on the condition that consumers receive a proper advance warning. In some situations, a drug manufacturer, physician, or pharmacist can provide the consumer with bad advice. Whether the advice comes from misleading marketing materials used by the manufacturer, inadequate warning labels on pharmacy bottles, or a physician prescribing medication for reasons other than what they were intended for, consumers can be harmed because of the incorrect or misleading information they rely upon.
There are many legal issues that have to be dealt with in any drug liability case. If you think you’ve been harmed because of the medication you’ve taken, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Most people don’t know enough about medication or the law to form an educated opinion about your situation, and only an experienced attorney can give you legal advice about what you should do.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer After an Accident?
When you sustain an injury as a result of a car accident, you may not be the only one who suffers. Injuries incur costs, both financial and otherwise. You may suffer lost wages, you might lose your job, or your earning potential may be reduced if you are left with a significant disability. As medical and other bills pile up in the aftermath of an accident, the stress and anxiety that come with it can be overwhelming and even incapacitating at times. Individuals who are injured in a car accident may be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries, expenses, and even pain and suffering; however, doing so can be complicated, especially for someone struggling with the physical and emotional ramifications that often occur following an accident.
Injuries can also have a negative impact on the loved ones of the injured person. Often, family members are forced to assume the role of breadwinner or caregiver, or both, which can place a tremendous burden on them and cause additional stress for the injured person. In addition, if family members are forced to leave their jobs or reduce their working hours in order to accommodate their care-taking responsibilities, the resulting financial insecurity can further contribute to stress for all involved. Role reversals such as these can make an indelible and negative mark on families in the wake of an accident-related injury, which can hamper and complicate recovery.
In the aftermath of an accident, insurance companies often prey on the vulnerability of the victims and are quick to make contact with them. They may ask for a statement from a victim, which can be damaging to their hopes of filing a successful claim in the future. Or, they may offer a quick cash settlement, which is likely far less than what would be owed in the event that the true nature of the accident – and the resulting injuries – was revealed. In reality, insurance companies are simply trying to get to accident victims before the victim obtains legal counsel. This is where a personal injury attorney can help.
Research has shown time and time again that utilizing the services of a personal injury attorney not only increases an individual’s chances of receiving compensation but also increases the amount of damages that are awarded. Insurances companies know this, which is why they go to great lengths to resolve matters fast. This is important information to know because, after an injury, it can be difficult to think beyond the present and focus on the big picture. An initial settlement from an insurance company might be tempting, but it may not be in the best interest of the injured person, their future, or their family’s future.
A personal injury attorney can do a multitude of things to help accident victims secure adequate compensation. They can interpret complicated insurance laws and manage the associated claims. If a settlement is possible and desired by both sides, attorneys can ensure that the person at fault covers the cost of all medical bills, in addition to punitive damages for pain and suffering. Furthermore, in the event that a case goes to trial, attorneys can take the reins, handling paperwork to file with the court, ensuring that deadlines are met, and preparing their client for the trial.
Oftentimes, people are hesitant to retain an attorney after an accident for fear that doing so will not be cost-effective. This is often not the case. In fact, most personal injury attorneys who specialize in representing victims of car accidents do so on a contingency basis. This means that they are not paid upfront. Rather, they receive a percentage of any compensation awarded to their client. Occasionally, such an arrangement may still deter some people from seeking counsel. They may believe that they would end up with more money in their pockets if they did not have to share it with an attorney. Keep in mind, however, that working with a personal injury attorney not only increases the odds of receiving compensation, it often leads to higher awards, which can still result in more money in the pocket even after attorney fees are paid.
After an accident, even one in which the injuries are minor, it is always advisable to consult an attorney. Personal injury lawsuits can be complicated and detailed, and attorneys can help victims defend their rights and seek compensation that is commensurate with their injuries. Individuals who remain on the fence about utilizing an attorney should keep in mind that initial consultations are almost always free; therefore, they have nothing to lose by pursuing a preliminary meeting. Doing so may make a difference not only in the amount of damages they receive but also to their future well-being and that of their family.
Why Using Small Claims Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Case
Sometimes, people who have been injured in an automobile accident or who have suffered a personal injury want to take their case to small claims court. Small claims courts have become quite popular in recent years, in part, because of the many television shows that feature small claims cases. Yet despite what you might have seen on television, small claims court may not be your best option. When it comes to personal injury cases and actual small claims courts, there are a number of issues you need to consider before you decide to take your case to your local small claims court.
Small Claims Judgment Limits
The most important thing to realize about small claims courts is that they have specific limits. Every state allows for small claims courts, and all of these courts have specific monetary limits that apply to them, though this amount differs between states. For example, if you sue someone in an Arizona small claims court for personal injury, the most you can win is $2,500. If you bring a similar case in the state of Texas, the most you can win is $20,000.
Small Claims and Personal Injury Cases
Unless the injury you suffered is very minor, your personal injury case is likely worth much more than the small claims court maximum limit. If you choose to bring your case to small claims court you can only win the maximum amount allowable by law. If you have suffered injuries and have sustained damages worth more than the maximum allowable amount, you won’t be able to recover the higher damages, even if you win.
Small Claims and Attorneys
The vast majority of state small claims courts allow plaintiffs to have an attorney with them to represent their interests. Only a small number of states, such as California, don’t allow plaintiffs in small claims court to be represented by an attorney.
However, just because you can have an attorney for your small claims court case, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find one who will represent you. Because small claims judgments are limited, the chance that an attorney will help you with your case is similarly limited. Attorneys need to be compensated for their time, and the amount of money you have to spend in a small claims case will be limited.
Further, many personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you win your case. When that happens, the lawyer will take a percentage of your winnings as his or her fee. But, because small claims cases only have limited judgment amounts, the amount you can win will almost never be worthwhile from the attorney’s point of view.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer
Before you decide to take your personal injury case to a small claims court, it’s very important that you speak to a personal injury attorney in your area. Only an attorney who has experience with a personal injury case can give you advice about your legal options and tell you what your best course of action will be.
Despite the best actions of employers and employees, accidents on the job do happen. Whether an employee works behind a desk, drives behind a wheel, or stands behind a counter, things can go wrong and injuries can occur. Regardless of their nature, injuries and illnesses have financial, emotional, and personal costs – including lost wages, lost earning potential, and physical pain and suffering.
In the event of a job-related injury, laws are in place to protect workers’ rights. In every state but Texas, almost all employers are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance in order to cover medical expenses that result from work-related illnesses and injuries and to partially replace workers’ lost wages.
This mandate incurs a large cost for employers.
A report from the National Academy of Social Insurance indicated that per year 131 million U.S. workers were covered by workers’ compensation insurance at a cost of $85 billion dollars to employers. If those numbers seem extreme, consider these numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Nearly three million cases of non-fatal illness and injury were documented in the private sector in just one year, equal to a rate of 3.5 cases per every 100 full-time workers.
A key measure of the severity of injuries and illnesses is the median number of days away from work, which was eight days for that year, and virtually unchanged from the three previous years.
In just one year, nearly 4,700 workers died as a result of injuries sustained while at work – which translates to one worker dying every two hours from a job-related injury.
Highway incidents remain the most common cause of fatal occupational injuries, followed by falls, workplace homicides, and being struck by objects.
The private construction industry experienced the highest number of fatal occupational injuries (774), while the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting industry had the highest fatal work injury rate (27.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers).
Work-related injuries have consequences not only for the employee, but their loved ones as well. Family members are often forced to assume the role of breadwinner if an injured employee is unable to work, which can place an unwanted burden on everyone involved. In some situations, family members may have to become temporary caretakers for the injured worker, especially if their recovery involves multiple visits to the doctor and extensive rehabilitation. Accordingly, if family members have to leave jobs (or reduce their working hours) in order to care for injured loved ones, additional financial insecurity and subsequent stress can result. Such role reversals can have a tremendous emotional impact on both the injured worker and their family, which can hamper the recovery process.
Fortunately, workers’ compensation (commonly referred to as workman’s comp) benefits can cover many of the medical costs associated with work-related injuries, as well as provide a portion of the injured employee’s lost wages.
However, the rules, regulations, and documentation necessary to pursue a worker’s compensation claim are state-specific and can be difficult to understand. For example, an occupational illness or injury must be reported to the employer as soon as possible in order to file a claim; however, the timeframe for doing so varies between states. If an employee fails to report their injury within the designated time frame, they may be denied benefits. Additionally, employers have the right to dispute an employee’s injury claim, but the process for doing so involves complicated legal maneuvers and procedures. Such a situation can be overwhelming for an employee – especially one who is dealing with the physical and emotional ramifications of an injury – and can leave them at a sizable disadvantage.
For these reasons, an attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation cases can be a great asset to an individual who has suffered a work-related injury or illness. They can explain the complicated workers’ compensation laws that apply to an individual’s circumstances, and they can manage the cumbersome and time-sensitive paperwork that is required in order to file a claim. In addition, most attorneys who specialize in workers’ compensation will provide a free consultation, and if hired, most will work on a contingency basis.
Attorneys with experience in workers’ compensation can provide valuable peace of mind during the often-difficult recovery period that follows a work-related injury. Their efforts can benefit the injured worker and their family, and secure appropriate compensation to aid in the recovery process.
How to Decide if It’s Time to Sue
When someone is hurt or suffers an injury, it’s natural to wonder if filing a lawsuit is appropriate. While this might seem like an easy question to answer, it’s often more complicated than many people realize. The decision to file a lawsuit is something you should only make after careful consideration of all the relevant issues. It’s also something that you should only do after speaking to a local attorney who has experience in handling cases such as yours. If you’ve been injured and are considering filing a lawsuit, here are some questions you should think about.
Were you hurt?
Many of the harms we suffer in our day-to-day lives do not rise to the level of a lawsuit. For example, you might not like the way your boss treats you or might be offended at something you hear someone say, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should file a lawsuit.
One way to determine whether filing a lawsuit is in your best interest is to look at the harms you have suffered. If you were hurt to the extent that you required medical attention, or you lost some abilities you once had, you almost certainly have a good basis for a lawsuit.
On the other hand, if you only suffered minor pain or were not significantly affected by the harm you suffered, pursuing a lawsuit might not be wise.
Do you have a case?
The next question you need to ask yourself when deciding to file a personal injury lawsuit is whether or not you have a case. This question will require some legal analysis, which is always best done by an experienced personal injury attorney. However, you can consider some important facts surrounding your case to help you answer this question.
How were you harmed? Did the injuries result because of someone else’s actions, or did you harm yourself? Were you injured at home or on someone else’s property? If someone else harmed you, was it intentional? How do you know? Even if the other person acted intentionally, did your injuries directly result because of that person’s actions?
Knowing the answers to these questions is important, but interpreting the answers is something best left done by an attorney. While it’s often easy to determine what the facts are, it isn’t always easy to determine how the law applies to those facts.
Do you want to sue?
Finally, it’s important to ask yourself if filing a lawsuit is worth the time, effort, expense, and stress you might have to experience. While no two personal injury lawsuits are the same, choosing to sue will affect your life. Depending on the nature of your case and your personal preferences, you might feel that filing a lawsuit is not worth it.
However, before you make any decision about a potential lawsuit, it’s important for you to speak to an attorney. A lawyer will be able to give you an objective valuation of your potential case and will be able to explain what you might be able to expect if you decide it’s time to sue.
If I’ve been hurt, when should I talk to a lawyer?
In the aftermath of a car crash, things can get hectic. Between dealing with the police, worrying about your injuries, wondering if you can afford the medical costs, and dealing with the possibility of not being able to return to work, you have a lot to think about. Not only that but also all the other concerns and worries you have in your daily life don’t just go away because you’ve been injured. Getting hurt can often amplify your problems and make your life much more stressful.
In all that confusion, stress, and chaos, it’s no wonder that many people wait far too long before they speak to a personal injury attorney after they’ve been hurt. If you are wondering when you need to speak to a lawyer after being injured, the reality is that you cannot do it soon enough.
Immediate Medical Care
Being hurt often requires you to seek immediate medical attention. This is your first and primary responsibility if you’ve been involved in an accident. Always seek medical care and follow all the instructions your doctors or health care workers give you. Treating your injuries and making sure you are properly cared for is your primary responsibility after any accident or injury.
Medical Treatments and Expenses
There are some situations where people are hesitant to seek medical assistance after an accident. For example, a lot of people who don’t have health insurance and who are injured in an accident are reluctant to talk to a doctor because they are afraid they won’t be able to afford it. These people might, for example, speak to a doctor immediately after their injury and then, after they hear the kinds of treatment the doctor recommends, don’t follow up because they are afraid of the expenses involved.
In such situations, you can often speak to a personal injury attorney about your concerns. Sometimes, your attorney will be able to help you find a health care provider who will provide the necessary treatment. Your personal injury attorney can often negotiate with the health care provider and enter into an agreement where the provider will not seek payment until you’ve resolved your personal injury case.
Insurance Company Contact
In some personal injury situations, adjusters, attorneys, or other insurance company representatives will contact you to discuss your case. It’s always best to speak to an attorney before speaking to anyone from an insurance agency. Insurance adjusters, attorneys working for the insurance company, and investigators are all there to represent the interests of the insurance company. Even if they make seemingly innocent comments or proposals, these can often come back to hurt you if you say the wrong thing.
Even if you don’t believe your accident or injuries merit a lawsuit, or you feel squeamish about beginning the legal process, you should always talk to a personal injury attorney first. Your lawyer is devoted entirely to protecting you and your interests and providing you with the legal advice you need.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Defenses – Technicalities
The idea of a legal technicality is something that a lot of people have heard about, but also one that is often hard to nail down. Basically, technicalities have to do with the requirements of filing a lawsuit, or the rules or laws that surround the lawsuit process that does not necessarily have to do with the facts that gave rise to the case. Just like with any other type of lawsuit, there are some technicalities that can serve as effective legal defenses in a personal injury case. Nevertheless, a ‘technicality’ can derail, or even terminate, your personal injury lawsuit, so let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used.
Statute of Limitations
One of the most common technicalities that people often run into in a personal injury law situation is the statute of limitations. A statute is a law passed by a legislature and, as its name implies, a statute of limitations is a law that imposes limits on certain types of lawsuits. The kind of limits we are talking about involves the timing of when you file your claim.
Basically, a statute of limitations is a law that requires people to file their lawsuits within a specific amount of time. Should you fail to file your lawsuit in time, you will not be able to recover your injuries even if you could prove you did nothing wrong and that the defendant was at fault. In other words, if you don’t file in time, the statute of limitations prevents you from recovering any money for your injuries.
Further, even though every state has a statute of limitations, the amount of time you have to file, in any case, differs significantly based not only on the area in which you live but also on the kind of case you want to file.
Regardless of the kind of lawsuit you file, every state has a host of rules that require you to take specific actions. If you fail to take those actions, a defendant can ask a court to throw your lawsuit out by filing a motion for summary judgment. In a summary judgment motion, the court is often asked to rule on a technicality that doesn’t exactly have to do with the evidence or the facts around the case, but rather on an issue involving one of the procedural requirements you have to meet.
For example, states have adopted laws that require plaintiffs to go through a number of steps before they file a lawsuit against the state, a city, or a public employer. Even though you can still file a lawsuit, you have to be sure to take the necessary steps before doing so.
So, for example, if you want to sue a city because of the actions of a city employee, you might have to first send a notice to the appropriate governing body, and then wait a certain amount of time before filing your lawsuit with a court. Should you fail to either send the notice or fail to wait the prescribed amount of time, the city employee might file a motion for summary judgment and have your case thrown out before a court ever hears the facts.
Preparing Defenses and Protecting Yourself
Regardless of whether you want to file a lawsuit, are defending yourself against a personal injury claim, or have been injured and want to know what your options are, it’s absolutely essential that you talk to a lawyer anytime you have a question about legal defenses. The vast majority of people simply do not have the knowledge and expertise necessary to determine what they can do, and no way of ensuring that all of their rights are protected. Any time you have suffered a personal injury, speak with an attorney in your area as soon as possible.
Personal Injury Cases and Legal Defenses
When people file personal injury lawsuits, the other side usually doesn’t concede right away. In many situations, defendants in personal injury lawsuits will try to use one or more legal defenses as a way of avoiding having to pay a settlement or legal judgment. Even though the defenses a defendant might use will differ from case to case, there are several legal defenses that are common in personal injury cases.
Comparative, Modified Comparative, and Contributory Negligence
The idea of negligence lies at the heart of a large majority of personal injury lawsuits. The law assumes that in our day-to-day lives we owe a duty to one another to act in a reasonable and prudent manner. We cannot simply go about our lives heedless of the results of careless activity. If we act in a careless or negligent manner, and our actions result in someone else getting harmed, we can reasonably assume that we will be held responsible for our actions.
Yet, what happens if a personal injury results from two or more people being negligent, including the person who got hurt? What if your personal injury case arose not just because someone else was careless, but because you acted in an unreasonable way? Can you still sue someone if you were partially at fault for what happened?
These are the types of questions that people raise when they assert contributory or comparative negligence claims. In states that have comparative negligence systems, an injured person will only be able to recover damages for which he or she was not responsible. So, for example, if you are injured, you might not be able to recover all of the medical damages you suffered if you are partially at fault. In some states, plaintiffs can recover regardless of how at fault they were, while other states require that the plaintiff be no more than 50%, or 51%, at fault.
Beyond comparative negligence, there is a similar idea known as contributory negligence. People who live in contributory negligence states can only recover damages if the injuries they suffer were entirely the fault of someone else. So, if you were even slightly at fault, you cannot recover damages from your negligence lawsuit.
While comparative and contributory negligence defenses are quite common, some situations can involve the defense of “assumption of risk.” With an assumption of risk defense, the defendant claims that the plaintiff’s injuries only arose because the plaintiff willingly engaged in risky activity. For example, if you choose to participate in a boxing match and sue because you suffered an injury because of it, the defendant would likely raise an assumption of risk defense.
Of course, determining what legal defenses are possible in any given situation is not something most people are capable of doing. To better understand legal defense, what you can do about them, and how they might affect your case, you have to speak to an attorney. If you have any questions regarding your personal injury case, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Personal Injury Medical Terms
The personal injury lawsuit process can be intimidating, especially for those who don’t have a medical background or who aren’t familiar with personal injury medical terms. To help you become more familiar with some of the important medical terms and phrases you might come across as you go through the personal injury lawsuit process, we’ve come up with a helpful list. Here are some personal injury medical terms you should know.
Whiplash. Whiplash is an injury that often arises in automobile crashes, slip-and-fall accidents, and other situations where a person’s head or body makes sudden movements. Whiplash can result in damage to your neck muscles, ligaments, or other soft tissues because the motion of your head pushes them beyond their normal limits. Whiplash injuries can be relatively minor, causing little more than slight pain or discomfort for a matter of days, or can be rather severe, resulting in long-lasting, and even permanent pain or damage.
Herniated Disk. Another common injury associated with car accidents, slip-and-fall cases, and other personal injury situations, a herniated disk occurs when the cushion-like tissue area between spinal bones becomes damaged. Some, but not all, herniated disks can be very painful and can cause numbness or weakness. Some herniated disk injuries can require surgery, but most don’t. In fact, some herniated disk injuries are not even noticeable by those who suffer them.
Soft Tissues. Soft tissue is a kind of umbrella term that applies to many different parts of the body. Soft tissue is one that covers, connects, or helps move other body parts. For example, muscles are a type of soft tissue because they are responsible for moving limbs. Nerves, tendons, ligaments, and even body fat are also considered soft tissues. Soft tissue injuries can be minor or very painful but are typically not permanent.
Dislocation. A dislocation occurs when bones become misaligned, though not necessarily damaged, and are no longer where they should be. People who fall, are involved in car crashes or are hurt playing sports commonly suffer dislocation injuries. Shoulder dislocations are the most common and can be very painful.
Fracture. A fracture is a broken bone. Bones break or fracture when they can no longer withstand the forces applied to them. Fractures can be either complete or partial and can result from seemingly minor injuries. Some fractures can require hospitalization and surgery, though most do not.
Spinal Column. The spinal column is the medical name for your backbone. It’s a collection of bones, called vertebrae, that are stacked on top of one another and connected by various soft tissues. The vertebrae bones have holes in the center, allowing the spinal cord to pass through them.
Spinal Cord. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves the spinal column protects. When someone suffers a spinal cord injury, that person can experience a wide range of very serious symptoms, including loss of sensation, changes in physical strength, paralysis, and death.
Railroad Accident Types and Factors
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, there are over 130,000 miles of railroad tracks in the United States. The trains that run along these tracks crisscross the American landscape, transporting heavy freight, agricultural products, and people from one location to another. The rail lines they follow often cross one another, cross over and under roads and bridges, and wind through tunnels. These conditions frequently place both passengers and freight trains in close proximity with pedestrians, vehicles, and buildings, and unfortunately, accidents can happen.
The most common types of accidents that occur include highway-rail accidents (e.g., train-car, train-pedestrian), train derailment, train-train collisions, and single-train accidents. Statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis revealed that a combined total of over 11,300 accidents occurred on America’s railways in one year alone. Single train accidents accounted for 17.7% of all reported accidents. Only 5.27% of these involved passenger trains and only 1% involved the release of hazardous material. Deaths, injuries, and occupational illnesses to railroad employees accounted for 65% of all accidents reported. With specific regard to the passenger train industry, only six deaths were reported; however, a total of 1,512 individuals were injured in railroad accidents.
Railroad accidents may occur for a number of reasons, including mechanical failure, improper equipment maintenance, failure of railroad tracks and/or equipment, human error, and excessive loads of cargo. The Federal Railroad Association reports that over 50% of all railroad accidents in the U.S. occur at unprotected rail crossings, and more than 80% of all rail crossings lack adequate warning devices to alert motorists and pedestrians that a train is approaching.
Since there is a multitude of factors that can potentially lead to a railroad accident, it can often be difficult for a victim to determine who can be held responsible for their physical and emotional injuries, as well as their loss of wages. When you add into the mix the routine and detailed investigations that are conducted by the National Transportation and Safety Board, as well as the investigations by state and local agencies, and the railroad company’s legal counsel, things can get complicated fast. Railroad employees face an even tougher challenge when they are injured on the job, as the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) prohibits railroad employees from filing traditional workers’ compensation claims. Railroad employees must instead file claims through FELA, through a process that requires employees to navigate a complex system in order to demonstrate liability.
The insurance companies and attorneys who represent railroad companies understand that the aftermath of a railroad accident can be overwhelming. They also know that these adverse circumstances can leave victims fearful of their mounting medical bills and inability to work. Often, they will attempt to capitalize on this vulnerability by offering victims a quick cash settlement, which may be much less than is needed to cover the victim’s needs, as well as much less than could be obtained if a skilled injury lawyer negotiated on behalf of the victim.
For these reasons, it is important to seek the counsel of a qualified attorney who has experience in handling railroad accident cases, regardless of whether the victim is a railroad employee or a bystander. They can protect the best interests of the victim and work on his or her behalf to ensure that they receive adequate compensation for their physical injuries, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
Spinal Column Injuries FAQ – Part 1
Spinal column injuries can be devastating. Not only can they last for the rest of the injured person’s life, but they can alter that life in any number of ways. Anyone who suffers a spinal column injury needs to speak with an attorney right away. Recovering your medical bills, receiving compensation for lost wages, as well as seeking payments for pain and suffering, are all issues that require legal advice.
It’s also a good idea to educate yourself about some common spinal column injury issues. Many of these issues surround medical or legal concepts that most people have little experience with. To help you get a better grasp of these concepts, let’s take a look at some frequently asked spinal column injury questions.
What is the spine?
Many people refer to the spine as the backbone. It’s the collection of bones that runs from your head down your back. The spinal column, or spine, includes both the collection of bones, as well as the bundle of nerves, tissues, and other body parts that are connected to them.
What does the spine do?
The spine does several things, but it is primarily responsible for protecting the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the collection of nerves that extends from the base of your skull to the lower body. The spinal bones, or vertebrae, are hollow, and the spinal cord passes through them. It can be helpful to think of the spinal cord as similar to the copper wire in an electrical cord, and the vertebrae as the rubber or plastic covering that protects it.
The spinal cord itself (the nerves) plays a vital role in human anatomy. Together with the brain, the spinal cord is part of the central nervous system. This system conveys messages between your brain and other parts of your body. For example, the spinal cord’s nerves extend to your extremities and allow you to control your muscles. The spinal cord nerves tell you when you are experiencing heat or cold, when you’ve been injured, and even allow you to regulate unconscious bodily functions, such as digestion and heart rate.
What is a spinal column injury?
A spinal column injury is any damage caused to the spinal column. There are many kinds of spinal column injuries, each of which can range in severity and symptoms, and each of which can be caused by a number of different factors.
For example, some minor spinal cord injuries can arise as a natural result of the aging process. Many elderly people experience spinal cord injuries as a result of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. These injuries can lead to periodic or extended bouts of pain or discomfort.
On the other hand, more serious spinal column injuries can be life-altering. For example, someone injured in an automobile accident can suffer a spinal column injury that results in permanent damage to the spinal cord. More serious spinal column injuries can result in permanent disability and even death.
Spinal injuries are a serious concern. If you, or a loved one, have experienced a spinal injury due to negligence, it is in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit
When you are involved in a car accident, the immediate aftermath can be painful, contentious, and often confusing. If you sustain an injury as a result of that accident, what you say and do during those first few moments can have a profound impact on your ability to seek damages for your injuries in the event that the other driver is at fault. Therefore, it is important to remain as calm as possible following an accident, while at the same time collecting as much information as you can without divulging more than you need to.
The cardinal rule to follow immediately after an accident is never admitting fault. Do not admit fault for the accident to the other driver, your passengers, the police, any witnesses, or your insurance agent. Your perception of what happened may be altered by the emotionality of the event, therefore admitting fault may inadvertently pigeonhole you into accepting responsibility for something that is actually not your fault. Next, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries so that their existence and severity can be documented as soon as possible. Also be sure to take detailed notes of all aspects related to your treatment, including the names and contact information of anyone involved (i.e., physician, therapists, pharmacist, etc.). Additionally, if you have visible injuries – such as cuts, bruises, or scrapes – take pictures of them immediately. Outward injuries that heal quickly are difficult to document, so you will want the photographic evidence on your side in the event you seek damages for them. You will also want to obtain a copy of the police report from your accident. Review it and check for accuracy in the facts, making note of any errors or omissions. Finally, you may wish to consult a personal injury attorney who has experience with car accident cases. Even if you have decided not to pursue damages for your injuries, you will certainly want to consult a personal injury attorney in the event that you are asked to sign papers or pre-written statements prepared by the other driver or their insurance company. Signing such documents unadvised can be detrimental to your rights.
If you do choose to file a claim against someone for injuries sustained as a result of a car accident, there are multiple stages involved in pursuing such lawsuits. However, the first thing you must do is contact a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney. Initial consultations are almost always free, and allow you the opportunity to describe what happened to the attorney and solicit their opinion as to the merit of your claim. At this meeting, the attorney will want you to describe what happened during the accident. Next, he or she will likely ask you questions pertaining to your medical treatment, other individuals who were involved in the accident, or potential witnesses. They may also ask if you have been in contact with your insurance company and if so, the nature of that contact and any information you provided to them. At this time, the attorney may state that your case is meritorious and convey their interest in representing you, or they may refer you to another attorney who could potentially better serve your needs. The possibility also exists that the attorney may decline to take your case.
In the event that he or she decides to take your case, and you decide to hire them to represent you, the next step will include a discussion of the logistics of your case, including a representation agreement, the different types of legal fees, and other expenses that you will incur, and an estimate of the costs associated with your case. The attorney will advise you regarding the next steps of your case, and you may also be asked to sign a form that allows your attorney to receive your medical records. Most experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will also advise you at this early meeting to refrain from discussing the details of your case with others, and instruct you to refer questions to them.
Stage One – Pleadings
If you decide to move forward with your case, the first stage involves filing the initial court papers, known as pleadings. The first of these that is usually filed is the complaint (or petition), which identifies the parties involved, establishes the legal basis for the court’s involvement, states your claims as the plaintiff, and describes the facts that relate to the claims. Also in the complaint will be a demand for judgment or a prayer for relief, which sets forth what you want the court to require the defendant to do, such as pay monetary damages. Next, the court issues a summons, which notifies the defendant that he or she is being sued, refers them to the complaint, and sets a time frame within which they must answer the charges or ask to have the case dismissed. The defendant’s response to the complaint is called an answer, and in this document, the defendant will respond to each paragraph, either admitting or denying each individual charge.
Stage Two – Discovery
A unique aspect of the United States judicial system is the requirement that all parties disclose the relevant facts and documents to each other prior to trial. This process is known as discovery. There are three types of discovery: written discovery, document production, and depositions. Written discovery allows both sides to question each other, and allows each party to ask the other to admit or deny specific facts essential to the case. During document production, each party is given access to almost every document that is relevant to the case, including computer files. Finally, depositions are sworn statements obtained when a person responds to an attorney’s questions under oath, in the presence of a court reporter (who creates a transcript). During a deposition, it is important to state only the facts that you know, as well as to refrain from providing extraneous information. In order for the discovery stage to work to your advantage, it is important to be truthful and forthcoming with your attorney and others involved and to understand and accept that this process will be time-consuming, expensive, and uncomfortable at times.
Stage Three – Motions
Motions are requests filed with the court by your lawyer, in which he or she asks for the court to rule on a specific matter pertaining to the case. These pre-trial motions can often help to resolve many questions pertaining to a particular lawsuit, and depending on the nature of the motion and ruling, they can even terminate a case prior to it ever going to trial. There are numerous motions that an attorney can file. Motions to dismiss are generally brought forth early in the case, sometimes even before the discovery stage, and are filed when the defendant believes that the complaint is somehow deficient from a legal perspective. Summary judgment motions are made when the central facts surrounding the case are not in dispute, necessitating that judgment be entered for one of the parties involved. Essentially, this kind of motion asks the court to consider the facts, apply the law, and argues that the court issue a judgment in favor of the party that files the summary judgment motion.
Stage Four – Settlement
In reality, a vast majority of personal injury legal claims never reach a courtroom; most are resolved through a settlement. In a settlement, the plaintiff agrees to give up their right to pursue legal action in exchange for the payment of an agreed amount from either the defendant or his or her insurance company. Settlements can be tempting to consider, but may not always be in the best interest of the plaintiff, especially in the event that they have a solid case or suffered a significant injury. As such, if you are considering settling a legal claim after sustaining a car accident-related injury, be sure and discuss the matter thoroughly with your attorney and get their perspective on the matter. There are multiple aspects of settlements that you need to consider, including your attorney’s assessment of your case’s potential worth; verdicts and settlements from similar cases that may have set a financial precedent of sorts; practical difficulties that might arise if your case goes to trial; possible limits on the defendant’s insurance coverage; the defendant’s ability and available resources to pay a settlement; known negotiating tactics and approach of defendant’s counsel; and how a settlement will affect your attorney fees, expenses, and income taxes.
Stage Five – Trial
For most personal injury trials, regardless of what caused the injury, the basic structure of a trial will be the same. Jury selection will be followed by opening statements, which are made by each lead attorney on behalf of the plaintiff and the defendant. In the plaintiff’s opening statement, their attorney will present the facts pertaining to the accident and the injury, and describe the alleged role of the defendant in causing the damages. The opening statement by the defendant’s attorney will provide the defense’s interpretation of the facts and lays the groundwork for the rebuttal of the evidence that will be presented. Next, witnesses will provide testimony and will then be cross-examined by opposing counsel. Once both sides have presented their evidence and contested the evidence presented by the other side, both sides will “rest” their case. Closing arguments then follow and offer an opportunity for each side to summarize their perspective on the case. The jury will receive instructions from the judge, which outline the legal standards that pertain to the case and instruct the jury on how those standards must be applied when considering the evidence. Finally, the jury will deliberate on the evidence and return with a verdict, either in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant.
Final Stage – Awards or Appeal
Even if a jury awards damages, it is not always easy to obtain the money. If the debtor is capable of paying the award, they typically will do so in order to avoid additional expenses and collection proceedings. However, in the event that the debtor is unable or unwilling to pay the award, it can be quite difficult to ever obtain those funds. Depending on the circumstances, additional litigation may be needed in order to gain a better understanding of the nature of the debtor’s finances, or wage garnishment may have to be pursued. In the unfortunate event that a debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual’s ability to recoup their judgment award is essentially gone, like that of other creditors. Finally, if the judgment is appealed by the losing party, payment of damages may be further delayed until the appeals process is complete.
State Differences in the Statute of Limitations
When it comes to personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is a vital issue to understand. A lot of people know that statutes of limitations are laws that impose specific timelines in various types of legal cases, but not everyone knows that there can be some significant differences between states when it comes to these laws. Today, let’s take a look at what types of statutes of limitations differences exist between states.
Types of Statutes of Limitations
Before we look at state differences in statutes of limitations, it’s important to understand that there are many different types of statutes of limitations that each state has, even though they all work in basically the same way.
Essentially, every statute of limitations is like a ticking clock. That clock begins once events take place that could lead to a lawsuit. These events are known as a cause of action. As soon as the cause of action transpires, the statute of limitations clock begins ticking away. Once that clock reaches zero, you cannot file a lawsuit arising from that particular cause of action.
State statutes of limitations are typically divided into four categories: written contracts, oral contracts, injuries, or property damage. Some states have additional categories, such as dividing property damage into personal and real property, but those are the four essential categories. Depending on the state, the difference between statutes of limitations from one category to the next can be significant. Further, the time limits between states can differ greatly.
State Personal Injury Statutes of Limitations
So, now that you know what statutes of limitations are and that state statutes differ, let’s take a look at those differences. Depending on where you live, the statute of limitations that applies to your personal injury case could be as little as one year, or as long as 10. That’s a difference of 9 years simply because you were hurt in one state and not another.
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that you get injured as a result of a slip and fall accident at a business located in Texas. You
suffer a significant injury as a result of the fall, one that results not only in medical expenses arising from the treatment you receive, but also lost wages because of the work you missed, and a loss of enjoyment of life because you are not able to do the things you were once able to do. In Texas, you have two years after suffering your injury to file a lawsuit for the damage you incurred.
Now, take the exact same situation, but let’s move north. Let’s say that instead of suffering a slip and fall accident in Texas, you’re hurt in Rhode Island. Even if the difference is only a matter of miles or a matter of feet, it’s all the legal difference in the world. If you are injured in Rhode Island, you have 10 years after suffering your injury in which to file your lawsuit.
If you’ve been hurt or suffered an accident you need to talk to a lawyer right away. The statute of limitations clock is already ticking, and only an attorney can tell you how much time you have left.
Personal Injury and Brain Death
Questions about brain death, brain function, and similar issues often arise after a friend or loved one suffers a serious injury. What does it mean to be brain dead? Are there different types of brain death? What does it mean to be comatose, and is this different from brain death? Today, we are going to take a close look at brain death in personal injury cases so you can have a better understanding of some of these essential issues.
The Brain Has More Than One Part
To better understand brain injuries and brain death, we first have to understand the brain itself. The brain is a complicated organ comprised of many different parts. Each part can serve a specific function, multiple functions, coordinate with other parts, or any combination thereof.
At the most basic level, it’s useful to divide the brain into two main areas: the lower brain and the upper brain. The upper brain is the part responsible for the functions that most of us associate with our brains: cognition, memory, thought, and personality. The lower brain, on the other hand, is the part that controls most of the bodily functions we don’t normally think about unless something goes wrong. This part of the brain, for example, regulates our breathing, perspiration, body temperature, reflective movements, our sleep and wake cycles, and even our heartbeats.
When doctors refer to brain death they are referring to a lack of brain activity in both the upper and lower parts of the brain. Someone who is brain dead is no longer showing any evidence of higher cognitive functions, such as thought or memory, nor is that person’s brain actively regulating his or her bodily systems. Some brain dead people can have their bodily systems sustained through the use of various machines, and some can maintain heartbeats without the aid of machines. There are no known instances where someone has recovered from brain death.
Persistent Vegetative State
A persistent vegetative state, or PVS, is a condition in which a person’s lower brain is still functioning, but the upper brain has lost some, or all, function. A person in PVS still has a beating heart, still breaths, and still shows signs of life, but that person’s higher cognitive abilities are not present. Some people in a PVS have recovered higher brain function, but it is rare.
When someone is involved in a serious accident or suffers a significant injury, that person can often fall into, or be medically induced into, a comatose state. People in a coma often appear as if they are merely sleeping. People in comas are not brain dead, as both upper and lower parts of the brain are still active. However, their brains are in a prolonged unconscious state. Most people in a coma eventually recover, though some slip into a persistent vegetative state, or even into brain death.
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury due to a personal injury, and you believe you may have a case, speak with a local personal injury attorney right away.
Spinal Column Injuries FAQ – Part 2
In our last blog post on spinal column injuries, we looked at some basic information people should know about the spine, the spinal cord, and the spinal column. Today we are going to look at some additional questions about spinal column injuries, their causes, and what legal options a person with a spinal cord injury might have.
As always, you should talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer if you need advice about spinal column injuries, or simply have questions about your options. Only a lawyer can tell you what you should or should not do in your situation, and you should never make any decisions about your case until you have received the legal advice you need.
What kind of spinal column injuries are there?
There are many kinds of spinal column injuries a person can suffer. Some of the most common injuries, for example, involve the protective tissues in between each of the vertebrae. There are 26 vertebrae. Where those vertebrae come together, there is a protective layer serving as a cushion. These layers are known as discs and are comprised of inner and outer sections. When a person suffers damage to the outer portion of a disc, the inner portion can protrude through it. This is known as a “slipped” disc and can be very painful.
In other situations, a person can suffer damage to the vertebrae themselves, or suffer an injury that results in damage to the nerves of the spinal column.
What kind of spinal cord injuries are there?
Spinal cord injuries come in many forms but are classified into type and level. There are two types of spinal cord injuries: complete and incomplete. A complete spinal cord injury is one where the damage to the spinal cord nerves has resulted in a person losing the ability to feel or move anything below the damaged area. A person with an incomplete injury, on the other hand, retains some sensation or motor control over the parts of the body below the damaged area.
Beyond complete and incomplete injuries, spinal cord injuries are also placed into categories based on where they occur. The individual bones in the spine each have names. When a person suffers a spinal column injury, health care workers will determine what kind of injury it is by determining which vertebrae have been damaged. In general, the damage that occurs higher up on the spine (closer to the skull) will be more significant and result in a greater loss of bodily function or sensation than those that occur to the lower parts of the spine.
What are my legal options if I suffer a spinal column injury?
It’s impossible to say what legal options you have when you suffer a spinal column injury without knowing the specific circumstances surrounding your injury, the nature of the injury, and the laws of your state. The only way to determine what your legal options are is to talk to a personal injury attorney in your area.
What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?
In a lot of cases where someone is involved in a car accident or suffers from some kind of injury, you might hear your attorney talk about “pain and suffering damages.” For a lot of people who don’t have a lot of knowledge about the law, this term can sound a little confusing. While it’s always best to talk to your attorney about any legal question you have, here is what you need to know about pain and suffering damages.
In the legal world, the word “damages” is just another way of saying money. More specifically, it’s money other people owe you because they caused you harm. For example, if you are involved in a car accident because someone else drove recklessly, that person may have to pay you money. Depending on how badly your car was damaged and whether you suffered an injury, the other driver may have to pay to both repair your car and compensate you for the injuries you received. The driver might also have to pay you because the accident left you in pain or prevented you from going to work and earning an income. All of these types of payments are referred to as damages.
Pain and Suffering
In any case where someone is hurt, it’s often very easy to determine the price of property damage, medical costs, and lost wages. These types of damages are known as economic damages. Yet the courts also allow for non-economic damages, or as they are more commonly referred to, pain and suffering. These types of damages are not so easily calculated because there is no fixed dollar amount associated with them.
Any time you’re hurt in an accident you might be entitled to recover pain and suffering damages because you’ve suffered pain, gone through emotional or psychological distress, have been disfigured, or have sustained injuries that have affected your ability to do things you like to do. If any of these situations occurred as a result of the accident or injury you sustained, and someone else is at fault, you can receive pain and suffering damages.
Calculating the Cost of Pain
Whenever you sue for pain and suffering damages, the question of how much you are entitled to always arises. Take, for example, a situation where a driver hits you while you’re riding your bike. In this type of accident, you can receive compensation not only for medical costs or lost wages but also for pain and suffering as a result of:
Any disfiguring scars caused by your injuries.
The pain of rehabilitating your physical injuries.
The emotional distress you experience remembering the traumatic event.
The loss of enjoyment you can no longer obtain from riding your bike.
In general, the more severe your injuries and the greater amount of pain you experience, the more damages you’ll be able to receive.
Ask a Lawyer
Pain-and-suffering damage is one of the more difficult issues involved in any personal injury case. If you are involved in such a case or simply have questions about pain-and-suffering damages, you should speak to an attorney near you. State laws differ a lot, and only a local lawyer will be able to give you advice about your case.
The top States For Auto Related Accidents
Someone is injured or killed in an auto accident every 14 seconds in the United States. Though this number has decreased significantly over the past couple of decades largely because of improvements in car safety and design, it is still an incredibly high number that results in tens of thousands of deaths every year, not to mention the billions spent on medical care and lost wages for those injured.
When it comes to automobile accidents, safe driving and safety equipment matter. But there are some factors that are outside of even the most careful driver’s control. Even if you are safe driver and have a well-designed automobile, your chances of being involved in a car crash depend, at least in part, on the state you live in.
The Deadliest States to Drive In
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that there were almost 30,000 fatal automobile accidents, resulting in over 32,000 deaths. When averaged across the entire country, that comes out to about 10 deaths per 100,000 people. But, there are some significant differences in the number of deaths by state.
According to 24/7 Wall Street, the deadliest states have fatality rates far above the national average. Mississippi has the highest fatality rate out of all, with almost 27 out of every 100,000 people dying as a result of a car crash in a two-year period. Montana came in second, with just over 23 out of every 100,000, with Alabama, Wyoming, and Arkansas rounding out the top five.
5 Deadliest Auto Accident States in 2011
The Deadliest States for Pedestrians
Not all car accidents result in fatalities, and even fatal accidents don’t always involve a passenger or driver. Pedestrians or bystanders can also be killed in a car accident, and the likelihood of that happening also differs depending on the state in which you live.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the deadliest state for pedestrians in 2010 was Florida, with about 2.6 out of every 100,000 people killed as a result of a car accident. That’s followed closely by Delaware with just under 2.5 out of every 100,000, along with Arizona, the District of Columbia, and South Carolina. The national average is 1.38 pedestrian car-related deaths out of every 100,000 people.
5 Deadliest States for Pedestrians
District of Columbia
Auto Accidents: Injuries and Costs
Fortunately, the majority of car crashes don’t result in death, but they do commonly lead to injuries and property damage. In one year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 10.9 million car accidents resulting in almost 2.2 million injuries. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the most recent year the CDC has complete data on, Americans lost $170 billion due to medical expenses and lost wages that resulted from car crashes. Another study, completed by AAA, showed that the total cost of car crashes in urban centers alone, including the cost of repair, was almost $300 billion.
Types of Spinal Cord Injuries and Potential Compensation
Your spinal cord is one of the most important pieces of your body. The long, thin collection of nerves allows your body to communicate with your brain, and your brain to control and regulate your bodily functions. Any type of damage to this vital piece of anatomy can lead to serious repercussions, including paralysis, pain, and permanent disability.
Not all spinal cord injuries are the same. Most injuries happen after a person experiences a sudden, violent injury, either directly to the spine or to other parts of the body. Some of these injuries can be relatively minor, while others can be life-altering and leave a person with disabling injuries. In any situation where someone suffers a spinal cord injury as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional harm, the injured person could be entitled to recover compensation.
So, let’s take a look at spinal cord injuries and the potential compensation involved.
Complete or Incomplete Injuries
The bones in your spine, called vertebrae, act like armor. Joined together, they protect the tissues and nerves of your spinal column and allow you to move freely without causing damage to these highly sensitive areas.
In the most serious spinal cord injuries, the vertebrae that protect the cord itself are damaged. This essentially destroys your body’s natural protection and leads to serious spinal cord damage. This kind of injury can cause a person to lose sensation or control over different parts of his or her body. For example, if your spinal cord is damaged in a certain area you could lose control over your legs or even all parts of your body below the neck or chest. These types of injuries are known as complete injuries because a person loses all sensation and motor control to at least one area of the body as a result of the damage to the spinal cord.
On the other hand, an incomplete spinal cord injury is not as serious as a complete injury. People with an incomplete spinal cord injury are still able to feel and move different parts of their body, but the injury limits their ability to some extent.
In other words, incomplete injuries limit a person’s ability to control or feel different parts of the body, while complete injuries make it impossible to do so.
Because the spinal cord is such a sensitive and complicated part of your anatomy, spinal cord injuries are notorious for their different effects. No two spinal cord injuries are identical, and while complete injuries are often more severe, incomplete injuries can still result in significant damage that leaves a person permanently disabled.
Though the specific amount and type of compensation involved in any spinal cord case will differ, judges and juries typically look at two main categories.
Economic. The person who suffers a spinal cord injury can be awarded compensation—known as damages—because that person had to pay medical bills or because he or she was unable to keep working. These are called economic damages because they have easily identifiable values associated with them.
Non-economic. Spinal cord injuries can also result in compensation for aspects of a person’s life that aren’t easy to put a dollar figure on. Often known as “pain-and-suffering damages,” non-economic damages include payments for the physical pain the injured person experiences, the loss of enjoyment he or she gets out of life because of the injury, or the emotional and psychological trauma the injury caused.
The Dangers of Texting and Driving
Most people are good, responsible drivers who never take unnecessary risks. However, even the best drivers can make mistakes, and texting while driving is definitely one of those. Even though you may understand that texting and driving are dangerous, the statistics may shock you.
Sending or reading a text while driving makes you 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than normal driving. Simply dialing, talking on, or listening to a phone while driving makes you as much as three times as likely to be involved in the crash.
23 percent of all automobile collisions (about 1.3 million crashes) involved cell phones in some way.
31 percent of drivers between the ages of 18 and 64 report that they’ve sent text messages or e-mails with their phones while driving at least once in the last 30 days.
The average person spends a minimum of 5 seconds looking at their cell phone when sending or receiving a text. If your car is traveling 55 miles per hour during that time, you travel the length of a football field. That’s 100 yards without ever looking at the road.
Using a phone to text while driving has been found to be as dangerous as having a blood alcohol content two times above the legal limit.
Teenagers who send or receive text messages while driving spend about 10% of their time on the road traveling outside of identified traffic lanes.
77% of teenagers say they are confident they can safely drive a car while texting.
Lawmakers around the country have recently begun recognizing just how dangerous driving while texting is. Numerous states have adopted laws against it. Whether you are involved in the crash or not, you may be committing a crime if you text or use a cell phone while driving. If you end up in a crash while texting, you could face significant criminal penalties.
Novice Drivers. If you have a restricted license, such as a learner’s permit or license that only allows you to drive with an adult present, you may be prohibited from using a cell phone at all, while driving. 36 states and the District of Columbia have laws that restrict novice drivers from using any kind of cell phone while driving, whether it’s to talk, send texts, or do anything else.
Cell Phones. 25 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving. In all but two of the states, Maryland and West Virginia, an officer can pull you over for violating the cell phone ban even if you haven’t committed any other violations.
Text Messaging. 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Like cell phone laws, almost all of these laws allow police to give you a ticket for texting while driving even if you weren’t doing anything else wrong.
Negligence. If you are involved in a car crash while texting and the crash results in someone else being injured or killed, you could face significant penalties. Some courts have held that texting while driving is a criminally negligent act. If you are convicted of injuring or killing someone while criminally negligent you face years in prison. Don’t Do It!
Texting and driving do not mix. You are not capable of driving safely and using your cell phone at the same time, no matter how confident you are in your abilities. Stay safe, be smart, and when you’re driving: put the phone down.
If you have been injured in a cell phone-related accident, and need legal advice, contact an experienced Auto Accident attorney.
What Are the Most Accident-Prone Industries?
Every year, more than 3 million American workers suffer nonfatal injuries while on the job. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks workplace injuries, and overall, its data shows that about 3.5% of all workers suffer a workplace injury each year. The most common injuries are muscle strains and joint sprains, accounting for about 40% of all the injuries workers suffer in the workplace.
A worker’s chances of suffering an injury while on the job increase dramatically depending on the industry in which they work. Here’s a list of the five most injury-prone workplaces in the United States.
4.4 people out of every 100 workers in the manufacturing sector get injured while on the job. Because over 11 million people work in this industry, manufacturing accounts for millions of on-the-job injuries every year. Certain sectors of manufacturing are more injury-prone than others. For example, workers who assemble computer electronic products have a much lower injury rate, at about 1.5 percent. Workers in the beverage, tobacco, metal, and wood manufacturing industries, on the other hand, suffer an average injury rate of just over six out of every 100.
Fishermen, farmers, forestry workers, and hunters suffer injuries at the rate of 4.8 workers out of every 100. There are less than 1 million workers in the agricultural industry, making the total number of injuries sustained relatively low when compared to larger industries. However, agricultural workers who commonly work with animals, such as ranch hands, have the highest injury rate out of any in this industry, with 5.2 injuries out of every 100 workers per year.
#3: Arts and Entertainment
The 2 million people involved in the entertainment and recreation industry experience an injury rate of 4.8 nonfatal injuries out of every 100 workers each year. The most dangerous sector of this industry involves those who work in spectator sports, the performing arts, and similar areas. These workers are much more injury prone, suffering a 6.7 percent injury rate. Workers in the gambling or gaming industry, on the other hand, only experience an injury rate of about 4.3 percent.
Of the nearly 4.5 million people employed in the transportation and warehousing industry, 5.2 out of every 100 workers suffer a nonfatal accident while on the job every year. The most dangerous subsection of this industry is, by far, the air transportation sector, where 8.1 percent of workers get injured on the job. The safest sector of this industry is railroad transportation, where only 2.0 out of every 100 workers suffer nonfatal injuries.
#1: Health Care
It’s ironic that workers in the industry responsible for caring for sick and injured people work in the industry responsible for the highest number of nonfatal on-the-job injuries. Over 16 million people are employed in the health care or social services industry in the United States, and workers suffer an average of 5.2 nonfatal injuries out of every 100 each year. The most dangerous subsection of this industry is the nursing home sector. Out of every 100 employees who work in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or residential care facility, 8.3 of them will suffer an injury while on the job.
What Does a Judge do in a Personal Injury Case Trial?
The lawsuit process can be intimidating. When you’re injured and are considering filing a lawsuit, it’s hard to know where to begin. Even after hiring a lawyer and getting started, the process can be hard to figure out. What do you have to do? What does your lawyer do? What happens at trial? What happens between now and then?
To help you understand the lawsuit process, let’s look at one specific piece of the personal injury process: the judge’s role. Specifically, let’s look at what the judge will and won’t do if your case goes to trial.
Judges, Cases and the Law
In a personal injury case, the judge serves as a trier of law. The trier of law is responsible for making a ruling over the legal issues brought up during the course of the trial.
For example, a woman sues the driver of the car that struck her while she was riding a bike. Because the injured woman filed a lawsuit, it is up to her to prove that the other driver was at fault. This is called the burden of proof. To meet that burden of proof, the injured woman’s lawyer calls witnesses and experts who offer their testimony about the facts and the issues involved in the case.
During the testimony, the car driver’s lawyer might raise objections. Objections are based on the legal rules that determine what can and cannot happen when someone offers evidence. When such objections come up, it is up to the judge to determine what the law is and whether the objections raised are valid or not. Judges are also responsible for ensuring the trial takes place in an orderly, impartial manner, and that all sides comply with the rule of law.
Bench or Jury Trials
If the judge is responsible for determining what the law is, who is responsible for determining who wins or loses the case? The answer to this question is the trier of fact. Who is the trier of fact? That depends.
Many, if not most, personal injury cases that go to trial are held in front of a jury. In a jury trial, the jury serves as the trier of fact. The trier of fact’s job is to try to find out what happened, find out what the facts are, and eventually, determine who wins the case.
However, there are some situations in which the judge can serve as both the trier of law and the trier of fact. Not all trials are held before a judge and jury. Some cases might be held only in front of a judge. In these cases the judge serves as both the trier of law and the trier of fact. This means the judge will not only make rulings about the laws involved in the case but will also listen to the evidence each side presents to determine what happened. Once the evidence has been presented, the judge will then determine who wins.
If you are the victim of an accident, you should contact a Personal Injury Attorney in your area to discuss your situation and to gather a further understanding of the legal process.
What Can You Do When Your Elderly Parent Gets Injured in a Nursing Home? Part 1
With the number of senior citizens growing by about 20,000 every day, the number of people who have a parent, close family member, or loved one in a nursing home environment is exploding. Unfortunately, the number of elderly people who suffer injuries as the result of abuse or neglect in these facilities is also on the rise. Not only that, but the number of cases actually reported every year may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nursing home abuse and neglect injuries.
So what are people to do when they believe that their loved ones have been injured as the result of elder abuse or neglect? What options do you have? How can you help your elderly loved one?
Today we are going to start a two-part discussion on some essential issues surrounding eldercare abuse and neglect. As always, if you have specific questions or need legal advice, you should always speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.
When seniors or other people are injured in a nursing home, assisted living, or similar type of facility, there are two basic types of situations that you must consider: abuse and neglect. Abuse occurs when someone intentionally tries to harm an elderly person, or that person’s interests.
There are many different kinds of elder abuse, including physical or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and even financial abuse. In elder abuse situations, a nursing home or eldercare facility employee intentionally harms the elderly person or his or her interests. An elderly person who is harmed as a result of abuse can often sue both the people who caused the harm, as well as the nursing home employing that person. In many situations involving elder abuse, it’s possible that prosecutors could also file criminal charges against those who abused the elderly person.
Neglect, though it is itself a type of abuse, is different than the intentional actions involved in many abuse cases. When an elderly person resides in a nursing home or eldercare facility, that facility has an obligation to provide the elderly person with care. This care can be anything from occasional assistance with transportation, to regular assistance with daily activities such as bathing or eating, or even round-the-clock assistance for those with significant disabilities or medical conditions. When an eldercare facility fails to provide the requisite care, that neglect can often lead to serious injuries.
Neglect can also come in different forms, often referred to as passive and active neglect. Passive neglect takes place when the caregiver forgets to provide the necessary assistance, while active neglect involves a caregiver that intentionally fails to provide help to the elderly person.
In either situation, an elderly person who suffers an injury as a result of neglect at the hands of a nursing home or eldercare facility employee can sue that facility for negligence and recover damages he or she might have suffered. If you believe your loved one has experienced elder abuse or neglect, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney right away.