Blog

You Are Here: Home / Blog

Personal Injury Lawsuits: Torts and Negligence

Categories:

 

If you have been consulting with a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer Newport Beach CA trusts, for your personal injury lawsuit, you may have been exposed to some key legal terms that you may not fully understand. This is because the law, in many ways, has its own language. Legal terminology can be confusing to the average person, but it serves its purpose just as any professional language by allowing lawyers a more clear, concise and efficient method of communicating. By learning some key legal terms in a personal injury lawsuit, you will have a better understanding of what is going on both with your case, and the law.

A personal injury lawsuit is when one person suffered an injury due to the fault of another party. The injured person(s) will hire a personal injury attorney in order to receive compensation from the party or parties at fault. Although the plaintiff sues the defendant (a person), it is often the insurance company of the liable party which is primarily responsible for providing monetary compensation. Some of the most common types of personal injuries for which people hire lawyers are car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, etc. Personal injury lawsuits are conducted in civil court, which means that instead of “crimes” being committed, there are civil wrongs done by people or business entities to other people called “torts”.

When a party fails to abide by the law and causes an accident resulting in injury to others, they have committed a tort. A tort refers to a civil wrong committed by either a person or business entity that causes unjust suffering to another person.  The tortfeasor, or one who commits the tort, is the party which is often being sued in a personal injury lawsuit. The burden of proving whether or not the tortfeasor is liable for your injuries is your lawyer’s job as this is the heart of a personal injury lawsuit.

Negligence is the most common tort as well as one of the most common civil “causes of action”, or legal reasons why you are able to take someone to civil (as opposed to criminal) court. Essentially, the law of negligence requires for people to conduct themselves in a way so that harm to themselves or others is avoided at all costs in order to avoid committing the tort of negligence. Negligence is based on the “reasonable person standard”, which refers to a hypothetical person in society who acts with a standard of average consideration and judgment. The reasonable person standard is a tool in law that is used in many instances when referring to what the normal person of average intelligence would do in a specific situation. When people cause an accident or injury to others because they fail to abide by their duty to act with reasonable attention or care, they are considered as having committed the tort of negligence.

For the average person, legal jargon can create extreme confusion and may increase the stress involved with a personal injury lawsuit. By understanding some of the basic terms, you can increase your confidence while speaking with a lawyer.

Bruno Nalu LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Bruno Nalu for their insight into personal injury practice.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Categories:

A traumatic brain injury can be anything such as a concussion during a football game, to shaken baby syndrome, which may result in loss of hearing, loss of vision, paralysis, etc. Traumatic brain injuries need to be taken very seriously since they can impact an individual for the rest of their life. Falling and hitting your head, being hit by an object, and car accidents are the most coming causes of brain injuries.

Brain injuries result in several types of injuries and losses. Some are much more traumatic than others, depending on the severity of your brain injury. They include:

  • Loss of job
  • Loss of finances
  • Paralysis
  • Vegetative state
  • Comatose
  • Stroke
  • Death

If you think you have been a victim of a potential brain injury, do not ignore it. Monitor your symptoms, and if anything changes see a doctor right away. So many brain injuries could result in less, long-term traumatic injury if people did not ignore the situation and were treated right away. Many people experience a disability an entire year after the initial injury.

Look Into Hiring an Attorney

If you were the victim of a traumatic brain injury due to the negligence of another person, you may want to hire an attorney and file a case against the party at fault. This could be due to a car accident as a result of a careless driver, work related injury that goes unnoticed, a slip and fall accident at a restaurant, or any other type of brain injury where someone else is at fault.

Traumatic brain injuries can result in life-ending injuries. With an injury of that nature, brings financial strain to the entire family, on top of dealing with the potential loss of a family member. An experienced attorney will know the correct step to take for you to receive full compensation for your injury. To receive compensation, you or your family members will need evidence it was the other party’s fault. You will want any notes from how/when the injury occurred, notes from any witnesses, video recordings, and medical records.

If you are unsure of how to file a lawsuit against the party at fault, or to make things easier on your end after going through this traumatic injury, hire an attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Brooklyn NY relies on. They understand the amount of stress a legal case can bring, especially after already going through such a traumatic injury. Someone who will speak for you, fight for you, and get you the compensation you deserve.

Laurence C. Tarowsky Attorney at LawThanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Laurence C. Tarowsky for their insight into traumatic brain injuries.

GUARDIANSHIP AND PERSONAL INJURY CASES

Categories:

A person injured in an accident can be left unable to make their own healthcare and financial decisions due to incapacity and/or disability.  If that person is an adult, their power of attorney can makes those decisions.

What happens if the person injured had not created a power of attorney before their injuries?  

In such a circumstance, a guardianship and conservatorship action will have to be filed with the court.  A guardian is someone who can make all non-financial decisions for an incapacitated person.  A conservator can make financial decisions for the incapacitated person.  

To become a guardian, a petition must be filed with the court.  State laws vary considerably on procedures, but generally it must be proven that the person needing a guardian cannot makes decisions such that they are a danger to themselves.  Thus, a guardian / conservator must be appointed to make all decisions for them.  

The person applying for guardian and conservator must prove to the court that they are trustworthy managing the money and decisions of another person.  Someone with criminal convictions or a past history of bankruptcy may not be approved by the court.  

In Missouri, where I practice law, anyone can file such a petition.  In reality, family members are given preference.  

Once approved by the court, the guardian / conservator normally must produce an inventory of accounts and assets of the individual.  They can almost immediately step into the shoes of the injured person to discuss healthcare decisions with their doctors, including where treatment is received, what type of treatment is received and which doctors provide treatment.  They can review medical records, deal with health insurance companies and write checks from accounts to pay for services needed for the injured person.

They can arrange housing, access all funds necessary for expenses and hire assistance for the care of the person.  

Perhaps most importantly, they can hire lawyers to pursue litigation against the party that caused their injuries.  

Any settlement for the personal injury suit will be managed by the guardian / conservator, subject to certain exceptions where a special needs trust must be created.  

Because the guardianship / conservatorship process necessarily creates uncertainty (Who will file?  Who can serve as guardian?  Who will the court approve?), it is always preferable that a person creates a financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney soon after they become adults.  

Life is full of uncertainties and the power of attorney is a great way to bring certainty to your life if you ever become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions.  The guardianship route, however, is still available if a power of attorney was not created.

Creating powers of attorney or applying for guardianship is something that can be done with the assistance of a lawyer like, a competent St. Charles, Missouri estate attorney.  


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into guardianship and personal injury.

 

What will car insurance cover after an accident?

Categories:

There are thousands of car accidents every day. They can happen at any time and can have life-altering effects. If you are one of the many unfortunate individuals involved in a car accident, what can you recover as a result of someone else’s negligence? What will the at-fault party’s insurance cover? Here are a few of the most common damages covered by car insurance following an automobile accident.

 

Property Damage

Thankfully, not every auto accident causes injuries. However, individuals can still suffer financially when their car is damaged. As long as you were not at fault in the accident, the other driver’s car insurance should cover the cost of getting your car repaired (or the market value of the car if it is damaged beyond repair), towing and storage expenses, as well as rental expenses while your car is being repaired.  

 

Specific Damages

Specific damages refers to damages that have a specific valued amount related to an accident-related injury. These damages include the cost of medical bills which you have incurred due to treatment related to the injuries you sustained in the accident. As long as the treatment is reasonable in scope and duration, the at-fault driver’s car insurance covers those expenses. Additionally, it should cover any wages you lost as a result of the accident and loss of earning capacity.

 

General Damages

General damages refers to damages that are not necessarily easily calculated dollar amounts. These damages most often include pain and suffering and emotional distress you have endured as a result of the other driver’s negligence. These damages are subjective and can range in value depending on the severity of the accident and each auto accident victim’s personal situation.

 

Punitive Damages

In certain circumstances, when the at-fault driver is especially negligent in causing the accident, you may also receive punitive damages. Again, these damages are not easily calculated dollar amounts and can range depending on the specific factors involved in an accident. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for the egregious behavior, which often comes into play when the person causing the accident is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is driving at a reckless speed, and/or hits your car and runs.

 

It is important to note that each state requires all drivers to have car insurance with minimum policy limits. The at-fault driver’s car insurance will only pay out up to the police limits on the at-fault driver’s policy, regardless of how much your property damage, specific damages and/or general damages may be.  

 

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you should speak to a personal injury attorney Charlotte NC trusts immediately.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Harman Law for their insight into car insurance after an accident.

Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos-Related Diseases

Categories:

Over the course of several centuries, people have mined asbestos from the ground and used it as a building material. Up until the 20th century, it was commonly used in the insulation of homes and also used by the U.S. navy in shipyards. However, asbestos is now known to cause several types of lung diseases, all of which can be fatal. People who have worked in certain industries are therefore at an increased risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses, and often these employees may be entitled to compensation if their exposure was due to an employers negligence. Read on for more info about the signs and symptoms of these illnesses.

Risk Factors

Those who have worked in the asbestos mining industry are at an increased risk of developing signs and symptoms of asbestos exposure. However, many other workers, either knowingly or unknowingly, have also been exposed to asbestos. Some of the most common jobs from which people have developed asbestos-related symptoms are:

  • Bricklayers
  • Carpenters
  • Automobile mechanics
  • Electricians
  • Drywallers
  • Insulators
  • Furnace workers
  • Plumbers
  • Roofers
  • S. Navy workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Building inspectors

If you have worked in any of the above industries, there is a chance that asbestos fibers have entered your lungs, especially if you’ve been exposed to the mineral often over an extended period of time.

Signs and Symptoms

Exposure to asbestos does not always lead to symptoms right away. In fact, most people see their symptoms occur 10-30 years after exposure, and some do not develop symptoms for up to 40 years.

Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by asbestos exposure, and it is characterized by difficulty breathing. According to the Mayo Clinic, one common symptom is shortness of breath. This often occurs along with a tightness or a pain in the chest. Many patients report having a chronic, dry cough. The tips of the patient’s fingers often widen and look rounder than usual, which is called clubbing.

Mesothelioma cancer is another asbestosis-related illness. Symptoms of mesothelioma are difficult to detect, mainly because the symptoms are commonly found in other illnesses, which often leads to misdiagnosis. Often, patients report no symptoms until after cancer has spread and the patient is already in stage III or stage IV cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, common symptoms of pleural mesothelioma are as follows:

  • Cough
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Heavy amount of sweating
  • Hoarse throat
  • Facial swelling
  • Swelling in the arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in lower back or side of chest
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fatigue

Peritoneal mesothelioma is another common form of the disease. Signs of peritoneal mesothelioma are pain in the abdomen, constipation, vomiting and nausea, swollen abdomen and weight loss.

Though asbestos is now known to cause these illnesses, many people are unaware of the symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestosis. If you or someone you know worked in one of the industrial jobs known to cause asbestos exposure, it is imperative that you get screened by a healthcare professional. If you think asbestos may be present in your home, do not attempt asbestos abatement on your own. A professional, like an asbestos abatement contractor Los Angeles CA relies on, can test a sample of the material and advise you on how it can be safely removed.

Nielsen EnvironmentalThanks to our friends and contributors from Nielsen Environmental for their insight into asbestos abatement and the harmful effects of asbestos.

The Advantages of Settling a Personal Injury Claim Out of Court

Categories:

When you have been injured in an accident as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, some decisions need to be made. One of those decisions is whether to pursue compensation for the damages that you incurred. The law allows you the right to pursue compensation for your damages, and a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer Las Vegas NV relies on may protect and invoke that right for you.

 

Claims and Lawsuits

 

After an accident, a victim has the right to file and proceed with a lawsuit anytime within the period prescribed by the applicable statute of limitations. Depending on what state the accident occurred in, that could be between one year and six years. We certainly don’t recommend waiting until the eve of the statute of limitations to file your lawsuit either. Witnesses can disappear, recollections can get fuzzy, and physical evidence can be disposed of or tampered with.

 

What is an out-of-court settlement?

 

In many cases, it’s possible for both parties to reach an agreement regarding a settlement payment, all without presenting the case in front of a judge or jury. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 95% of all personal injury cases filed are resolved by out-of-court settlements. There are several good reasons for this extremely high percentage:

 

  • Legal fees: Each side in a personal injury lawsuit pays its attorneys one way or another. An injured plaintiff ordinarily pays pursuant to a contingency fee agreement. The defendant’s attorney is usually paid on an hourly basis by an insurance company. The longer that a case goes, the more money the insurance defense attorneys could bill.
  • Court costs: The longer that a case goes, the more money the parties will be required to pay for court costs too. Those costs usually include: filing and service fees, court reporter fees for depositions, deposition transcript fees, statutory witness fees, medical records fees, and expert witness fees. In a case involving severe injuries, those court costs can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Those are usually advanced by the plaintiff’s attorneys, and they’re reimbursed from settlement or verdict proceeds. The defendant’s attorneys bear their own costs, and those are reimbursed by the insurance company.
  • Risk: Even top trial lawyers encounter unpredictable developments during the course of a trial. For example, evidence might be excluded by the judge, the recollection of witnesses might get cloudy, and even the injured plaintiff might change his or her version of events. All of those developments can translate into considerable risk for both sides, and neither side knows what a jury might do with the case.

 

There are many ways that out-of-court settlement negotiations can be beneficial for injury accident victims. If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury attorney today for more information about seeking compensation.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Nadia von Magdenko & Associates for their insights into motorcycle accident cases.

Tainted Dog Food Leads to a Massive Lawsuit

Categories:
Tainted Dog Food

Pet food recalls have been increasingly on the rise, so much so that many people are starting to become concerned about what they are feeding their pets.

According to WJLA News, there have been recalls of at least 40 different treat types and pet foods so far this year. One widespread recall involved dog food that had pentobarbital in it, a drug that is used to euthanize animals. Three different canned dog food brands contained this deadly drug, and the company that is linked to those brands is now facing several lawsuits.

One such lawsuit has been filed by a family who had one dog die and four other dogs fall ill after the animals ate food made by Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co Inc. Their manufacturing company, Nutripack, LLC, is also a defendant in that case. The lawsuit filed states that companies knew their food was not fit for human consumption nor inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did investigate the dog food from these companies, uncovering the presence of pentobarbital. In the course of that testing, the agency also discovered that the tainted food contained horse meat and that none of the company’s suppliers were ever inspected by the USDA.

Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Co Inc. sells dog food under its own name, under the “Against the Grain” label, and privately labels food for other brands, including “Party Animal,” which was also part of the recall. As a result, Party Animal has filed a lawsuit against Evanger’s and is seeking $20 million in damages.

Unfortunately, the last decade has seen many pet food recalls, one of which was among the largest in consumer history. In 2007, there was a recall of pet foods from several major brands because of the use of gluten tainted by the chemical melamine by a large supplier. As reported by Reuters, the FDA received more than 8,000 reports of sick animals or animal deaths from pet owners related to the recalled brands. Melamine is used for fertilizer in Asia, but it is not allowed in pet food in the US because it is known to cause illness and kidney failure in animals.

Harmful ingredients is not the only issue consumers have been struggling with in the pet food industry, as there have also been many instances of misleading labeling practices. In 2016, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports there was a $32 million class action settlement from Blue Buffalo over its labels. The Blue Buffalo dog and cat food items stated the food contained no poultry by product, but it was found in tested food samples from the brand. In that case, the pet food company maintained it was the fault of their supplier, who they alleged defrauded them.

Losing a pet to a tainted product is a heartbreaking and preventable death in a family. If your family has been impacted by a tainted or unsafe product, speak to an experienced product liability and negligence lawyer Denver CO relies on today.

Richard J. Banta, P.C. Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into product liability and negligence cases.

Will Car Insurance Cover Medical Bills?

Categories:
Car Insurance Cover Medical Bills

Car insurance policies provide several different types of coverage that will pay medical bills.  The two main sources of coverage are 1) specific medical payment coverage in the insurance policy for the car in which the injured person was occupying; and 2) the liability coverage for person who was liable for the accident.

In most states, a car owner as part of his car insurance coverage can buy insurance that will pay the medical bills for the treatment of injuries suffered by an occupant of the insured car in a wreck.  This coverage is often called “MedPay.”  This insurance is not mandatory.  And the per person/per accident coverage limits can range from as low as $2,000 to as high as $50,000 or even greater.  MedPay will pay those medical bills regardless of who was at fault for the accident.  MedPay is what is known as primary coverage, which means that even if Medicare, Medicaid, or group health insurance initially paid the bills, MedPay must still pay the bills, while the insurance company that initially paid the bills will be reimbursed.

If the person was injured in a car wreck as a result of the negligence of another, then the injured person has an additional source of insurance coverage to pay his medical bills.  This insurance is called liability coverage and all automobiles are required to have it.  Each state requires a minimum dollar amount of coverage.  In Virginia, the minimum limits of coverage are $25,000 per person/per accident.   This insurance pays an amount to the injured person equal to the damage caused by a negligent driver of the automobile to the injured person, including any medical bills.  This is true even if the bills have already been paid by MedPay or other insurance.   The injured person will receive this amount if and when he receives a judgment against the negligent driver, or the negligent driver’s car insurance company reaches a settlement of the injury person’s liability claim with the injured person.

In most states, if the injured person’s medical bills were paid by MedPay (or other insurance) and the injured person then received a settlement or judgment against the driver who negligently injured him that included a payment equal to the total of the medical bills, the injured person is required to reimburse the MedPay insurance carrier out of those proceeds for the amount of the MedPay payment.  This right of reimbursement is known as the right of subrogation, as skilled Abingdon Virginia car accident lawyers trust.  However, Virginia and some other states have enacted what are called anti-subrogation laws.  Under those laws, the MedPay insurance company has no right of reimbursement.

The Law Offices of Mark T. HurtThanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into car accident cases.

How is negligence defined?

Categories:
car accident negligence

Unfortunately, many people are injured every year in car accidents caused by negligent driving. If you, or a loved one, has been injured in just such an accident, you need to know your rights.

NEGLIGENCE

Every state defines within its laws what exactly negligence means. However, a simple definition is: When a person fails to do something he or she should have done. In the context of car accidents that usually means the driver failed to prevent an accident that should have been preventable.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Attorneys, like a personal injury lawyer Bowling Green KY trusts, look for certain indicators of negligence. If you know any of these signs were present before or after your accident, make sure you get legal advice.

  1. Excessive speed. There are speed limits and these limits are posted for a reason. Road conditions mean that only some speeds are safe. If the other driver was driving too fast then he or she may not have allowed themselves sufficient reaction time to avoid an accident.  
  2. Road rage. Tailgating, cutting off drivers, yelling at drivers and other hostile actions are clear indicators of a driver who is not only NOT paying attention to the road and dangers, but may actively be causing dangers himself/herself.
  3. Distracted drivers. We all know the dangers of texting while driving. But there are other distractions that can be just as dangerous: talking on the phone, setting GPS, eating, looking for items in the glove box or on the floor, talking with passengers, eating or anything else that causes you to divide your attention. I was almost T-boned once by a driver who had a whole newspaper spread out across the steering wheel.
  4. Intoxication. Drinking and driving certainly do not mix. Drugs and driving do not mix. But some people may not be aware, or may ignore, that prescriptions and driving often do not mix. Until you know how your medications affect you, do not drive. If they ever cause you symptoms such as lethargy or distractedness, then for driving purposes, assume they always cause such symptoms.
  5. Faulty equipment. If you know your vehicle has faulty equipment, such as bad brakes, you could be negligent in choosing to drive it. You could be negligent if you drive a vehicle without first ensuring that it is safe to drive. So, always keep your vehicles well maintained.

Hopefully you and your loved ones will never be in an accident. This information should help you to avoid being a danger to others and help you be a better defensive driver when others are causing driving hazards. And if you are ever in a wreck, look for the above  signs that the other driver was being negligent and let you attorney know.


Thanks to our friends and contributors Tim Hendrix Attorney at Law PLLC for their insight into negligence.

 

Poll Reveals Distressing Rise in Distracted Driving

Categories:
Distracted Driving

Dallas News reports that distracted driving is on the rise, alongside accidents on the nation’s roads. The US Department of Transportation’s data shows in that in 2011, there were about 5.3 million accidents, and the figure jumped to close to 6.3 million accidents for 2015. While the accident rate increase has more than one cause, a primary factor that is worrying safety advocates is driving while distracted. A recent Harris poll that was carried out for NerdWallet seems to support this concern completely.

According to the Harris poll, about 67 percent of Americans have driven in the last year while using a cellphone. It’s worth noting that 14 percent of all fatal crashes with distracted driving as a factor involved mobile phone use in 2015, according to the US Department of Transportation’s data.

Among the people who admitted to using their phone in the poll, 38 percent said they texted while they drove, and 13 percent said they almost went off the road, weaved in and out of lanes and nearly had an accident or did have an accident.

In addition to cell phone use while driving, 62 percent of respondents said they were distracted by things beside a cellphone while driving over the last year. The leading category by far in this section was eating, with 58 percent saying they did it, followed by 10 percent of drivers admitting to grooming while driving. Caring for a child in the backseat accounted for 9 percent, while laptop use made up 7 percent. Changing clothes came in at 5 percent, and drinking alcohol clocked in at 4 percent. Other reported distractions included reading, putting feet outside of the car while using cruise control, and playing an instrument.

While it appears likely that the rise in electronic use will continue to be a problem on the roads, the tech sector is now taking some proactive measures when it comes to curbing distracted driving. As reported by Tech Radar, the new operating system for Apple devices coming this fall, iOS 11, has a feature that will detect when someone is driving and silence all notifications. Users can even set it so that their Apple device sends an automatic text message response to incoming messages that indicates they are currently driving.

Smartphone apps that help people avoid distracted driving are also available for many devices. SafeDrive, for example, lets safe drivers earn points to use to discounts on services and products. AT&T’s DriveMode silences alerts and sends auto-replies to messages received on a driver’s phone. For parents with teen drivers, there’s LifeSaver, an app that locks the phone when the teen is driving and sends automatic messages when he or she has arrived at the destination. This app is also available for businesses that have fleet vehicles.

Distracted driving has resulted in minor, major and fatal accidents all over the country. If you’ve been injured because of a distracted driver, speak to an experienced auto and motorcycle accident lawyer Denver CO trusts as soon as possible about all of your rights.

Richard J. Banta, P.C.Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into distracted driving.