Tagged in: personal injury

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.   

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Choosing the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for You: 5 Things to Consider

If you’ve had a personal injury that you believe was the fault of someone else, it can be a good idea to hire a personal injury lawyer. The key is to choose the right attorney for you and your claim. How do you know you’re making the right choice though? What should you look for when hiring a personal injury lawyer? Here are 5 things to consider when choosing the best lawyer for you.

  1. How Much Experience Do They Have?

An attorney’s level of experience is of the utmost importance. Each states has very specific laws and regulations that could be relevant to your case. It’s crucial that your personal injury lawyers knows all there is to know when it comes to dealing with your claim. Be sure to inquire about other similar cases the lawyers you’re considering have handled. You’ll want to know success rates as well.

  1. What is Their Focus?

Many successful lawyers will have a somewhat specific concentration when it comes to the types of cases they handle. Ask yourself what kind of personal injury lawyer it is that you really need. Personal injury lawyers have unique skills for determining liability issues like negligence and causation. They’ll also have more experience when it comes to ascertaining the compensation that you’re entitled.

  1. Know Their Reputation

A lawyer with a good reputation is certainly a plus when you know they’ll be communicating with insurance companies and with other lawyers in the court systems where they practice. A strong reputation means added value for whomever he or she represents.

  1. Consider the Cost

Make sure you’ve read the fine lines of the contract before signing anything. Often times, with personal injury claims, lawyers will be paid a certain percentage of the settlement or court award. If you’re not awarded anything your lawyer may not be paid a fee; you may, however, have other costs that pertain to your case. Make sure you’re aware of everything you could have to pay so you’re not hit with any surprises when things come to a close.

  1. Are They Compassionate?

All lawyers are ready to win – even personal injury lawyers. It’s important, though, to find one who has compassion for their clients. Humanity plays a huge role when it comes to personal injuries, so it’s important that the lawyer you choose understands on a deeper level where you’re coming from and has genuine compassion for your situation. Communication is a key factor when it comes to maintaining a good relationship and therefore a strong case – to choose a lawyer with a personality you mesh well with can go a long way. It’s important that they sincerely care about your case and want you to get the compensation you deserve.

 

Interact with Dogs: Child Safety

Dog experts will agree that some dogs bite and some dogs don’t, but all dog bites are preventable. Unfortunately, children are at a high risk of receiving a bite from a dog. In Canada and the United States, between 1982 and 2014, of all the reported dog bite cases, 81% of the victims were children. Additionally, between 2010 and 2012, 359,223 children were bitten by a dog and while many people assume that dog bites are received from strange dogs, about 61% of dog bites occur within the home or in a familiar place.

While there is often controversy as to where the responsibility falls when a dog bite occurs (some blame the owners, others blame the victim) parents can help decrease the risk of a dog bite by teaching their child how to responsibly and safely interact with dogs.

Adult Supervision Around Dogs

Although it’s important that children are taught how to behave around dogs, either familiar or unfamiliar, adults are also responsible for supervising children around dogs. If an adult is around, particularly the owner of the dog, the dog is less likely to attack. If an attack does occur, adult intervention can help reduce the severity of the attack (ie. fatal attack). Similarly, if a child is left alone with a dog and the dog does attack, the child is less likely to free him or herself from the attack than if an adult was present. Not only are adults responsible for supervising a dog’s behavior, unsupervised children are more likely to wander off into a potentially dangerous situation.

Why Do Dogs Bite?

This is an important question to answer, especially for people who assume that dogs are always at fault. First off, there is no one reason why dogs bite, but here are a few:

  • Dogs are Pack Animals: By nature, dogs are pack animals and much of their behavior is based on such instincts. Since children are typically smaller than most dogs, some dogs may consider themselves as superior or alpha. Additionally, a dog may display protective behavior for a territory or person (which is also instinctive behavior).
  • Boundaries are Compromised: Many dogs are territorial and have boundaries in which they feel comfortable and safe. Children, on the hand, do not understand boundaries. An overly protective dog can feel threatened when his or her boundaries are crossed.
  • Too Much Physical Contact: Most dogs like affection and are eager to receive it, but if a tail or ear is pulled by an overly affectionate child, a bite may occur as a warning to “back off”.

Show and Tell Your Child How to Interact with Dogs

While dog owners have a great responsibility to teach their dogs not to bite and to recognize a potentially dangerous situation (ie. meeting strangers or too much stimulation in public), parents can only control how their child acts around dogs (or how the family dog acts). Here are some tips to teaching your child how to act around dogs:

  • When approaching a dog (and his or her owner) always walk slowly and quietly
  • Always ask the owner if you can pet his or her dog, never assume
  • If the owner says “yes”, slowly extend your hand to let the dog sniff the back of it (not the palm)
  • Pet a dog’s shoulder or chest, not the head

 

Additionally, if a child is in a dangerous situation with a dog, he or she should:

  • Never run, but give the dog a jacket, backpack, or something not attached to them
  • Avoid direct eye contact and stand like a tree with arms at their sides
  • Remain quiet and curled up in the fetal position if the dog knocks him or her down
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Personal Injury Law: Know Your Rights

Personal injury law, or tort law, deals with incidents where a person is injured due to the negligence of someone else. Personal injury is a broad field and includes physical accidents caused at work, car accidents, psychological illness, damage caused through defective products, etc. In this case, a third party is responsible for deliberately or unintentionally doing harm to others. So, what can you do if, unfortunately, you are faced with similar situations? It is really important to be aware of the laws in your state to take appropriate actions. First of all, you need to immediately find legal help before the statute of limitations ends, which tends to differ from state to state and case to case. A lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on further proceedings. You must be ready with the following information prior to getting a lawyer:

  • The place where the incident occurred (this will help to decide the guilty party)
  • The date when the incident occurred (normally one can sue the guilty party within a year)
  • How it occurred? (to prove that it really was the mistake of the guilty party)
  • Were there any witnesses present at that time?
  • How much compensation are you ready to accept to settle the matter?

What to do when the settlement is unsuccessful?

Though most of the civil cases are resolved before moving to court, there are many instances when the defendant (accused party) is not ready to compensate the victim (plaintiff). When this happens, the next step is to move into court and challenge the defendant there. A judge will handle the case and give you a hearing date. If you win, the defendant could be liable for your legal fees during the trial and any lost wages. It must be noted that, in civil cases, the defendant will not be given any jail time. That only happens during a criminal case. In civil cases, the defendant will compensate through paying fees. The highest compensation is offered when serious injuries such as bone fracture or brain injuries are involved. It is imperative to consult with your lawyer about the fee they will charge. There is also an option of “no-win, no-fee.” So, it would be better to have a talk with the lawyer before proceeding with the case. Having enough evidence in the form of documents and witnesses is of immense importance to make a good case. If you don’t have any evidence, even if you are the victim, the court won’t be able to take any actions.

Court trial: what to expect and time taken

The compensation offered is directly proportional to the severity of the accident, provided you win. In any case, your lawyer will be there throughout the trial to help with all the proceedings. It is vital to note that the time taken till the verdict is reached depends on the strength of your claims and evidence. Normally, civil cases, contrary to criminal cases, takes less time to reach a verdict. However, it all depends on the evidence, your local jurisdiction and the defendant. Conclusively, you must be aware of the rights if you are involved in an accident.

Have you been involved in a civil case? What was the outcome? Leave your comments below:

 

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Choosing a Personal Injury Specialization

As a lawyer fresh from law school, or even as an established member of the bar, it is easy to see and note the various occurrences that result in personal injury all around you. There are so many cases of personal injury each year that it can be tempting to want to handle every single one of them. Asides from the sheer volume of the work that would definitely weigh one down, it is noteworthy to mention that narrowing your field can help you better concentrate in your particular niche. Choosing the right specialization can help you do good for society and excel in your area of expertise.

Types Of Personal Injury Cases

There are many different types of personal injury cases, and some of them include traffic accidents, work accidents, assault, product defect, holiday accidents, medical malpractice and negligence (including dental), industrial diseases, repetitive strain injuries etc. The following are some questions you should ask yourself when you are trying to decide what aspect or type of personal injury case to specialize in:

Is This Your Passion?

The best personal injury lawyers are always passionate about the area they specialize in. You should ask yourself if you are concerned about a particular personal injury. Your compassion for victims of that particular injury would motivate you to do your best for them. Being too passionate about a cause can be a double-edged sword. If you should happen to be too passionate about the particular injury, your judgment could become clouded, or your decisions could be called in to question due to personal bias.

Do You Understand It Well?

Understanding the aspect of personal injury is a major requirement for choosing your focus area. It is common sense that you are likely to continue to do well in an area that you understand well. If you are a recent member of the bar, you can choose an aspect that formed a part of your bachelor’s degree, or if you are a seasoned attorney, then you must know or have a very good idea of what areas you have aptitude in.

Are You Compassionate?

Every personal injury lawyer, just like every lawyer, is in it for the win. You need to win the case and ensure your client gets what they deserve. However, in personal injury law there is also the humanity factor. Many of the top personal injury lawyers would tell you that the most important factor in this field is compassion. If you are compassionate with your clients about their personal injury struggles, and you are concerned with getting them their due, this will give you the motivation to succeed in doing so.

Making The Decision

You must be sure that you want to pursue personal injury law before even pondering a specialization. If you have decided that this is the route for you, choose the focus are in which you have a combination of passion, knowledge, and compassion. Narrowing it down in this way should help make your decision an easier task.

Product Recall? Here Are Your Options

Consumer products are recalled nearly every day. As discussed on USA.gov, recalls may be initiated by the manufacturer or the government to protect consumers from products that have the potential of creating health and safety risks.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for recalls in a range of categories, including children’s products, appliances, electronic and electrical products, clothing, furniture, household products, outdoor products, lighting, and sports and exercise equipment, as reported on Recalls.gov. Recent recalls are posted on the CPSC home page. Before you buy a product, particularly a children’s product, it is good idea to check and ensure that it has not been recalled.

When a recall action is taken, according to USA.gov, sale of the product may be banned or consumers might be asked to return it for repair or replacement. In some cases, the manufacturer provides an additional part to make the product safe.

If you have purchased a product that has been recalled, take the following measures to ensure yours and your family’s safety:

  1. Go to the CPSC website page where product recalls are posted and locate your recalled product.
  2. Find out what the hazard is and why the product was recalled.
  3. Double check the model numbers to ensure you have the same product.
  4. Find out what the remedy is for that particular recall. You may be asked to:
  • Return the item to the manufacturer for a replacement
  • Take the product back to the store for a refund or exchange
  • Return a part of the product to the manufacturer for replacement
  • Order a repair kit free of charge
  • Throw the item away and receive a refund or exchange
  • Remove a dangerous piece from the item to eliminate the hazard
  • Replace instruction books or warning labels for the product

You will almost certainly need to contact the manufacturer of the recalled product. This is generally done by calling a toll-free number, but manufacturers may provide a way to contact them online regarding recalls.

In the case of baby products, About Parenting recommends that you register products using the forms provided when they are purchased so the manufacturer can contact you in the event of a recall. About Parenting also states that CPSC has warned consumers against attempting to repair recalled cribs on their own. In fact, you should not try to fix any recalled product on your own unless you have specific instructions from CSPC or the manufacturer to do so.

Preparing for a Party or Event? Make Your Home Safe and Secure

Do not take unnecessary risks if you are hosting a party or event. Keep your guests safe, and avoid a potential injury or a lawsuit due to hazardous conditions. In fact, spinal cord injuries have been known to happen from a walk down a flight of stairs gone bad. It’s easy to overlook safety issues with all the activity of setting up a party, but the extra precautions will be worth the effort.

Examine the inside and the perimeter of the event location. Are there cracks in the sidewalk or potholes in the driveway? These could cause a slip and fall, making you potentially liable for any injury. If you have a bouncy house for a child’s party, make sure it is properly anchored and have an adult supervise it. Walkways should be free of obstructions or debris; clear out any furniture that obstructs the passageways. You should consider putting away small objects that can easily break or be swallowed by toddlers. You may want to use plastic and paper products rather than serve food and drinks in glass containers that can break.

A primary cause of accidents is a pool that is ungated or unattended. If you have no gate around your pool, designate one or more persons to keep an eye on swimmers and small children around the pool area. A fenced pool is not a guarantee that children won’t find a way in, so all children must be supervised at all times if a pool is on the property. Be alert for toddlers falling in the pool or jumping in without a parent. Water makes the poolside slippery, so ask guests not to run. Walking with bare feet on cement or slippery tiles could result in a head injury or worse. If adults are drinking alcohol, this adds a risk factor as well.

Take Safety Precautions to Avoid an Accident

Some safety precautions to take are:

  • Place decorative markers on sliding glass doors so no one runs into them.
  • Put extension cord covers on electrical wires to prevent tripping.
  • Put safety runners on slippery surfaces such as high polished wood or tile.
  • Cordon off staircases if small children are present or if stairs are worn; make sure hand railings are secure.
  • Keep knives or sharp objects beyond the reach of children.
  • Monitor alcohol intake of your guests; make sure they do not drink and drive.

It is well worth your while to make a checklist ahead of time for party and event safety. Make especially sure that there are sufficient fire exits and bathroom facilities. If it is a pool party or barbeque, have supervisors at these locations. An event or party can be a fun and memorable experience for you and your guests. Keep everyone safe and secure and it will be a hit!

Slip and Fall Cases – A Serious Risk for Business Owners

Most business owners have their attention focused on the day-to-day operations of their business, as well as its immediate and future success. The majority work hard to present a positive image of the business, improve sales and keep customers happy. Very few are worried about the risk of accident or injury, despite the fact that slip and fall cases can pose a serious and costly risk for business owners.

Under premises liability laws, business owners have a duty to reasonably maintain their property and premises in such a way so as to keep customers and invited guests safe. If a broken stairwell goes unrepaired, a leaky pipe is allowed to drip to the point where water pools on the ground, or an uneven sidewalk is not fixed in a timely fashion, it can pose a significant danger. In these situations, if a customer were to slip and fall due to an unsafe condition the business owner should have been previously aware of and taken prompt action to fix, that business owner could be liable for any injuries or loss caused as a result of his or her negligence.

The Severity of Slip and Fall Accidents

The severity of injuries in a slip and fall accident will largely depend on the surface where the accident took place, the cause of the accident, the force of impact, and the age of the victim. Some people will only suffer bumps and bruises after a slip and fall, while others may suffer broken bones, severe back and neck injuries, and traumatic head injuries. In rare instances, an individual could succumb to injuries sustained in a slip and fall. The medical bills, rehabilitation costs, loss of income, and other accident-related expenses for which a business owner could be held liable will quickly add up.

In one case, an appeals court awarded $400,000 to the family of a victim who slipped, fell and broke his hip in a Target store parking lot. The man’s surviving family members received the award, as the victim and his wife had passed away before they were able to get their day in court.

Another woman was recently awarded $5 million dollars in a settlement brought about by injuries she suffered after slipping and falling on wet flooring glue at the school where she was a high school administrator. Her injuries caused long-term nerve damage and left her unable to walk without the use of the cane. She was later diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, as a result of her injuries, and requires assistance 24 hours a day.

What Business Owners Can Do to Minimize the Risk of Slip and Falls

Business owners can minimize their risk in slip and fall accidents by being diligent. Making sure walkways stay free of debris and clutter, keeping an eye out for potential slip and fall hazards, encouraging employees to report conditions which could prove dangerous, and following through with timely repairs can all reduce the liability a business owner may face. Even putting up wet floor signs can reduce the risk of injury and lower the potential for a premises liability case.