Tagged in: law

Personal Injury Law, Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice

Negligence, or neglect, is one of the prime areas of personal injury law.

Negligence implies that a person should have known (or at least been able to anticipate) the outcome of his/her actions. For example, a driver knows if he hits someone with his car, bodily injury is almost certainly the result.

The premise of negligence goes far beyond auto accidents, however. In fact, it is one of the largest elements of medical malpractice – another major area of personal injury law.

If a medical device manufacturer knowingly produces a product that – due to lapses or failures in design, defects in manufacture, or lack of clarity when it comes to operational instructions – harms an individual, that is a prime example of medical negligence.

The Definition of Medical Negligence

In many cases, medical negligence can be defined as the failure to act. It can also be an action that deviates from an accepted standard of care – that is, acting appropriately, effectively, or in a medically necessary fashion, when, for example, action was called for – as in the case of putting a watch on a patient who has a burst appendix instead of operating.

In today’s world, the term “medical malpractice” is virtually the same as medical negligence. Both suggest a lapse of necessary, appropriate and timely medical care on the part of a medical professional.

Most of us have lapses of attention, but our momentary fugue states rarely end in disability, disfigurement or death unless we are behind the wheel of a car or armed with a weapon – or so skilled in defensive maneuvers that our hands and bodies are weapons.

Not so with medical professionals, who have an extra burden of the “duty of reasonable care” (one of the underpinnings of personal injury law).

When Negligence Becomes Malpractice

When a doctor, therapist, nurse or other medical professional fails to act, or to act appropriately to the situation, it does not always result in bodily harm. The surgeon may ignore or overlook a disease or disability, and the patient could potentially recover and go on to live a normal life.

When, however, the medical professional’s failure to act results in injury to the patient, negligence becomes malpractice. Malpractice occurs whenever a medical professional’s behavior, or lack of it, results in complications, creates the need for additional or alternate treatment, or in any way makes the patient worse than he/she was before.

In some cases, depending on the nature of the situation (incurable disease, untreatable malfunction, etc.), a medical professional’s perceived failure may not be malpractice at all. For example, a victim with multiple sclerosis may be treated by a doctor and yet find his or her inability to walk remains. This is not the fault of the doctor, or even of the treatment modality, but of an intractable disease that, in its later stages, does not reliably respond to any treatment.

Treating Intractable Disease

The same is true of a patient who begins going to a doctor with an essentially untreatable condition (like lupus, Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, or any other persistent, deteriorating medical condition), and eventually finds himself or herself getting worse.

Getting worse is part of the typical progress of the disease, and cannot be prevented, even with the best medicines and most aggressive therapies.

There are, however, instances of doctors facing these intractable diseases who exceed their mandate (and the dictates of sound medicine) by giving more medication than is needed, using medications not approved for treating the condition in question, or otherwise behaving excessively. This verges on medical recklessness.

In some cases, the caregivers or parents want this extremely aggressive treatment. They may even insist on it. This does not relieve the doctor, nurse or therapist of responsibility, because – under the law – it is assumed the medical professional knew better.

If you or a loved one has suffered injury at the hands of a medical professional, consult a qualified personal injury attorney for advice on whether you have a case or not.   

Airbnb: Preparing Your Home

Becoming an Airbnb host is a great way to generate some extra income for that spare bedroom in your home or for the whole space when you are off visiting family and friends over holiday break. Before you take pictures of your home, set a price and post on the Airbnb site, you need to make sure your home is ready to be rented out short term by complete strangers.

Is it Legal to Rent Out Your Space?

Many Airbnb hosts, eager to keep up with rent payments while visiting friends states away, are unaware that it may be illegal to rent out their space for a day or two. Whether you rent an apartment or own a home, you need to check out the laws in your city or your rental agreement. Even if your landlord is never around and you’re only renting out your place for a night or two, you could be violating your lease and you could return home from your own trip with an eviction notice. Know all of the legalities before you decide to host, it’s not worth the risk.

Get Your Home Ready as an Airbnb Host

If you’re given the “go ahead” to be an Airbnb host, congratulations, but you will need to do a little prep work before you rent your space for your own safety and the safety and comfort of your potential renters.

  • Keep it Clean: If you have the extra funds to hire a professional cleaner, go ahead and splurge, otherwise clean your space as you see fit. The cleaner the space, the better ratings you’re likely to get. Additionally, if you don’t take the time to clean, you really can’t expect much in return from your renters. If your home is prone to dust, animal dander, or even mold, you should definitely mention something in your description.
  • Fix Up Your Space: Just as you would with a long term renter or guest, you’d make sure to fix any hazardous areas in your home, such as a loose railing, broken step, or unsafe electrical. In the event of a guest injury in your home, Airbnb offers insurance, but you also want to talk to your insurance provider and make sure what’s covered.
  • Communicate Everything: If, for some reason, something breaks right before a renter is due, make sure you communicate any potential dangers. A responsible and successful Airbnb host communicates everything. You should make all directions and expectations completely clear, as well as the inventory or space that is available. This can be something as simple as how to use the coffeepot or television remote to using the washing machine. Don’t leave any surprises for your guests or advertise that you provide one thing when you don’t have it.
  • Keep Your Valuables Safe: Whether you’re a regular host or an every-now-and-then, it’s important to keep your valuables safe from the strangers who live among your possessions. If you have an extra room, you could store important documents or heirlooms in the room and restrict access. A fireproof safe, with a combination lock or key, is also a good idea. If you are too worried about having your stuff looked at or handled, you probably should reconsider becoming an Airbnb host.

 

 

Important – But Often Overlooked – Business Start Up Tips

New business startups are challenging and adventurous, with a multitude of factors to consider. If you plan to grow your business or sell it someday, it is important that you run it right from the beginning and operate within the confines of the law. The basics steps involved in starting a new business are not difficult to find. For example, an article on Forbes tells you how to go about it in 8 key steps. The Small Business Administration also provides step-by-step instructions. However, certain new business tips, although equally important, are frequently overlooked.

Commonly Overlooked Tips for Business Start Ups

Get the insurance coverage your business needs. According to an article on Forbes, a small business owner may need any combination of 13 different types of insurance. A business owner’s policy (BOP) combines coverage your business needs in one package and typically saves you money. A BOP may include property insurance, auto insurance, liability insurance, crime insurance, and business interruption insurance. Depending on the type of business you have, you may also need errors and omissions professional liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, directors and officers insurance, data breach insurance, or other types of coverage.

Set up your general ledger properly. You can buy off-the-shelf software for this purpose, but according to an article on Entrepreneur, you should carefully consider your initial financial setup in order to fully understand your company financials and for future proof of the value you have built in your business. It may be in your best interests to hire an accountant to set up your books initially.

Keep careful records of your expenses. As covered in the Entrepreneur article, it is important to understand the extent of the items you are allowed to expense in your business. Keep all your receipts and meticulous records. This will help you with audits and due diligence of future potential buyers or investors, and enable you to reduce your taxable income without hurting the value of your company.

Keep business and personal expenses separate. A range of expenses meet generally acceptable accounting principle (GAAP) standards and it is perfectly legitimate to use business funds to pay for them. Using business funds for personal use, on the other hand, can get you in trouble with the IRS and expose you to liability, as covered in the Entrepreneur article. If you paid for personal expenses with business funds, it would be difficult to separate them out if your company was being valued in the future. The best policy is to keep personal expenses out of the business from the start.

Report all company revenue. If you are doing business in cash, it may be easy to skim money off the business, but that would be unadvisable. It could get you in trouble with the IRS and reduce the value of your company in the long run. It would be difficult to establish the value and growth of your business if you were not reporting the correct numbers.