Tagged in: negligence

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.   

auto accident claims

Involvement of Multiple Vehicles Affects Auto Accident Claims

There are hundreds of accidents involving multiple vehicles in the United States each day. It only takes fractions of a second to cause major property damage and injury. There are a multitude of factors that may cause these accidents and affect liability.

Common Causes of Multiple Vehicle Car Accidents

While auto accidents can be caused by a wide variety of issues, weather and road conditions are frequently at the root of an accident that involves multiple vehicles. Speeding, failure to yield and aggressive driving are also causes of multi-vehicle wrecks. Impaired drivers certainly contribute to multiple vehicle auto accident statistics, as these drivers are a hazard to anyone sharing the road with them.

Processing Claims for Multi-Vehicle Accidents

When multiple vehicles are involved in an auto accident, the claim is handled differently than it is for a two-car collision. This makes the process slightly more difficult and certain steps must be followed to ensure claims are viable and properly finalized. Delays, non-payment and other hassles can be caused by improper filing or handling of claims for multiple vehicle auto accidents.

Determination of Fault in Multiple Vehicle Accidents

When several vehicles have been involved in an auto accident, extensive fact checking is needed for the claim to be developed. Close investigation is necessary for any auto accident, but particularly so in these cases. For multi-vehicle collisions, several legal representatives, insurance adjusters and other investigators will be working at the same time to determine what caused the accident and who holds liability. When three or more vehicles are involved in a rear-end collision, the final vehicle to collide may not be considered to carry any fault. Chain reaction collisions often require close examination to determine who is liable. Rules for these accidents vary from state to state and even among jurisdictions within individual states.

Property damage from the accident may be inspected by insurance adjusters, accident investigators and others. Witnesses will be questioned and support for accident re-creation is gathered. Responsibility may be determined after examining the vehicle types, damage acquired, injuries sustained and other supporting facts. The party at fault may be easily determined. But it is important to ensure that experienced investigators examined the accident fully.

When driving, every motorist has a responsibility to drive sensibly and carefully. When this duty of care is not properly performed, a negligence claim may be developed against that driver. If injuries result to another motorist, that motorist is legally able to pursue reimbursement for expenses from the driver found to be at fault.

For multiple vehicle accidents, it can become more difficult to clarify and establish negligence. There are many questions which must be answered, details to be discovered and complex situations to work out to determine liability.

Inspectors Contracted for Multiple Vehicle Accidents

Contracted agents may be used to inspect multi-car accidents by reviewing police reports, interviewing officers and pursuing other information that will help determine liability in the accident. This agent may determine that the accident was caused by the actions of a negligent driver. That driver may have acted using poor judgment that led to the damage to multiple vehicles. The driver can be held responsible for damages.

When acts of drinking or drug use are found by the case inspector to be the cause of accident injuries or damages, this information can be used to establish fault in a legal claim. Other acts of negligence include reckless driving, aggressive driving, speeding, following vehicles too closely or not observing traffic signs or signals. Weather, road conditions and other factors may have contributed to the wreck.

Contracted inspectors may analyze photos of the scene, review closed circuit video from area businesses, interview passengers and gain other information to help in their case.

When Contributory Negligence Occurs

Contributory negligence may play a role in claims involving multiple vehicles. Every state handles these claims in their own manner. Contributory negligence involves the contribution by the victim to their own injuries. For example, one driver may have caused an accident, but the injured victim’s speed or non-use of safety belts as required by law contributed to the magnitude of their injuries. When contributory negligence is applied, the percentage of damages awarded to the victim may have their own responsibility factored into the amount.

Compensation for Multiple Vehicle Accident Claims

State laws vary for multiple vehicle accident claims. Medical costs and vehicle repairs are covered by insurance. Filing of claims involves several important steps against multiple parties, with those filings varying according to insurance carrier. If fault is not determined in a multi-vehicle accident, a lawyer with car accident experience and his or her associated investigation team can help resolve the liability issue. There may be multiple parties at fault and such cases can become quite confusing. Personal injury lawyers often work with insurance providers to ensure proper handling of claims for correct disbursement of compensation.