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Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

Personal Injury – What to do after a serious injury

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Personal injury, generally as a result of an accident, malpractice or negligence on someone’s part, can be either physical or psychological. Common types of claims can include slip and fall, automobile accidents, work related accidents, injury from an assault, and accidents due to defective products. A personal injury can occur anywhere, including inside someone’s home, in the workplace, in a business or even out of doors. Medical and dental malpractice and product liability matters are all incorporated under the banner of personal injury, however, different injury claims in different states are subject to different rules of law and statues of limitations (these are filing deadlines) which must be adhered to strictly. It is advisable to consult an attorney as a first step if you feel you have a case for a personal injury lawsuit in order to properly protect your interests.

A potential claim for personal injury may result, for instance, if an automobile driver were to run a red light and smash into your vehicle, causing you injury, or if a medical provider failed to properly treat an illness, misdiagnoses an illness or botches a surgery, causing you further injury or even death. Therefore, a personal injury clam can be made for pain and suffering, disabilities caused by treatment or accident, permanent injuries or wrongful death. A claim can also be made in the case non-physical injuries, such as extreme emotional distress or verbal abuse.

Immediately following an accident, or as soon as possible thereafter, generally within the first few days, you should attempt to make a written record of the accident, your injuries and other matters which concern you, such as lost wages, etc. It is important to this right away so that the facts will still be clear. You should additionally maintain a record of any conversations that have taken place between participants in the accident or injury. It is also important that evidence from the scene of the accident or injury is preserved as it was at the time of the accident. Therefore, it is wise to take pictures or collect any physical evidence which can support your case. You should also attempt to get names, addresses and statements of any witnesses to the accident or injury. Finally, it is necessary that all responsible parties are notified of an intention to file a claim. In some cases, as with a government agency, such notification must happen within a very short period of time following the accident. Simply notifying the responsible parties that you plan to file a claim does not obligate you to do so, but it does preserve your rights to file should you wish to in the future. Keep in mind that statutes of limitations govern how long you can wait before filing a claim.

All of the above steps can be handled through the assistance of a personal injury attorney, who will be well versed with the rules regarding personal injury matters in your state, which is why you want to seek their advice as soon as possible.

Determining on the job injury

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Workers’ Compensation law governs the benefit system which protects employees from on the job injuries. You should be aware that workers’ compensation benefits are state mandated and, therefore, the laws may vary from state to state. To be certain that you have protected your rights, you should seek the advice of an attorney when making a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits. The purpose of Workers’ Compensation insurance is to assist employers by getting injured employees back to work quickly, thereby avoiding any loss of business for the company. The insurance will generally cover medical costs, a portion of your pre-injury salary, some expenses and vocational rehabilitation. The benefits are limited and generally do not cover all expenses.

These benefits are awarded to employees who are injured in an on-the-job accident, or other illness or injury due to an employee’s work routine or environment. This can cover repetitive stress injuries or exposure to toxins which may cause injury or health problems. Also, Workers’ Compensation can cover mental or emotion illness, such as depression, as a result of job stress, however, these problems are difficult to prove. An exception would be in the case of a traumatic event, which an employee may witness or experience on the job, that could lead to problems later requiring treatment or counseling. For instance, if a plant employee were to witness a fatal accident on one of the machines or if a cashier in a convenient store is held up at gunpoint, these situations might make them eligible for benefits, if there are psychological repercussions.

More common workplace injuries might include repetitive motion injuries caused from typing on a computer keyboard all day or turning the same bolt on an assembly line, as well as construction related injuries.

When presenting a claim for Workers’ Compensation, an employee must prove that his injury occurred while on the job and that it was as a result of the responsibilities of his employment. Also, the employee must show that the risk of injury was specifically brought about by performing his job. There are different types of risk, that is risk directly linked to employment, personal risk, and neutral risk. If an employee is injured on a machine at his workplace, that would be considered a direct link to employment, since he would have no reason to have been near such a machine other than for his job requirements. This would be covered by Workers’ Compensation. A personal risk situation would most likely not be covered by Workers’ Compensation, as it would involve the employee’s own choices rather than anything work related. For instance, if an employee were to contract lung cancer after 30 years of smoking, this could be considered a personal rather than employment-related risk, unless he could prove otherwise. The neutral risk is the most difficult to prove, as the injuries may happen at the workplace, but contributing factors that are not work-related may have caused the injury.

Regardless of who is responsible for the employee’s injury, employers pay the cost through Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If an employee is injured due to his own negligence, therefore, he is still eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, accepting Workers’ Compensation benefits means that the employee has forfeited any right to sue an employer for damages as a result of any injuries. If a third party is deemed either directly or indirectly liable for the employee’s injuries, however, the employee may sue that party. For example, if an employee is injured as a result of a mechanical malfunction on a piece of equipment he is operating, he can sue the manufacturer of that equipment. If he were to win a settlement, the employee would be required to reimburse the employer for all costs associated with his Workers’ Compensation claim.
Not all injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation benefits, including self-inflicted injuries, those incurred during a fight, injuries incurred while breaking the law, injuries sustained while not working, and while an employee is violating company policies. Additionally, all employees are not covered, including shop owners, farm workers, railroad employees, maritime workers, volunteers, independent contractors and federal government workers.

Workers’ Compensation insurance is mandatory in most states, however some jurisdictions allow large companies to be self-insured, and some small companies need not be insured at all.

Why do personal injury attorneys get such a bad rap?

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Sometimes called “ambulance chasers,” personal injury attorneys provide legal representation to those who claim to have been injured as a result of negligence or wrongdoing by an individual, company, government agency or other entity. Injuries of clients normally range from work-related to automobile and other accidents, and from medical mistakes to slip and fall accidents. The kind of law that personal injury attorneys practice is referred to as “tort” law.

Since personal injury attorneys are normally aggressive in their representation, there have been many movements to establish tort reform in recent years. Tort reform proponents argue that such reforms are needed because personal injury lawsuits have led to an excessive increase in health care costs. An astounding 15 million lawsuits are filed every year in the United States. Also, countless doctors have had to leave their practice or relocate because of cost-related medical malpractice insurance rates. The Harvard School of Public Health has recently found that only 60 percent of medical malpractice litigation cases produced evidence of medical error.

Personal injury lawyers have codes of conduct, which they must abide. State bar associations have the power to take disciplinary action against those individuals who violate professional or ethical policies. The American Bar Association Joint Committee on Lawyer Regulation offers support to state bar associations in order to help them draft, apply and promote regulation regarding personal injury lawyers.

Our society has become somewhat of a “compensation culture.” A compensation culture basically means that it has become commonplace for anyone who has suffered a personal injury of some kind to take legal action against an individual or company connected with the injury, even if the injury is trivial or the connection is questionable, for monetary purposes. The plaintiff is usually someone who was persuaded, either by family members or a law firm, to sue. Too many injury attorneys or law firms specializing in personal injury cases have commercials on television with the intention of attracting clients who may not be interested in suing initially. They claim to have won millions of dollars for previous clients and stress that injured individuals are owed compensation. Lawsuits vary from frivolous to serious. A frivolous lawsuit may involve someone who had slipped and fell on someone else’s property, while a serious lawsuit may involve someone who was paralyzed as a result of a car accident. Some frivolous lawsuits may be settled outside of court if the cost of defending a case is greater than the settlement amount.

Although personal injury lawyers may get a “bad rap” because of the way today’s society has a propensity to sue, most of them believe wholeheartedly in the law and are simply doing their jobs. When you are injured and in pain, it is much harder to represent yourself in court. If the injury is a result of another individual or company’s negligence, then you deserve proper compensation for your suffering. A good, honest and experienced personal injury attorney will make sure that your best interests are represented in court.

President Bush’s Affect on Personal Injury Law

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a bill that would limit the amount of money that could be awarded in malpractice suits. It seems that medical malpractice has become a real money maker in the U.S., especially for legal professionals.

It has been debated for years now as to whether personal injury law in the United States should have limits placed on it. The United States has become a nation hungry for compensation through law suits no matter how large or small an issue may be. We have developed into a society that seems to have lost any other way to settle our problems and arguments or even our “accidents”.

Proponents of limiting the settlements allowed on personal injury law suits often explain that ceilings on settlements will have a very positive effect on the legal landscape in America. One of the most often cited example is that of health care costs. In a country where a huge number of people have little or no health insurance to pay for such necessary expenses, the cost of medical attention is rising higher and higher. Many feel this is due to the exorbitant cost to medical practitioners for their liability insurance, including their malpractice insurance. This is insurance these professionals are forced to carry in order to protect themselves against large lawsuits. It may very well be that if the Doctor’s expenses go down, he or she may be able to provide services for less.

Another reason many (including President Bush) feel that settlements should have limits is to reduce the strain on the American justice system. Many personal injury suits are filed by people who have been in an accident and are lead to believe by the ever present television commercials that the first person they should be talking to is a personal injury lawyer. These people seem to live in a black and white world where the word “accident” no longer has a meaning. Such law suits are considered frivolous by many in the legal field. They do, however still exist and put a huge strain on the whole system. Because everyone has the right to legal recourse in such matters, many simply file in hopes that they win big (as though it were a lottery rather than a legal proceeding based on facts).

President Bush and others who support limiting legal awards in many cases have also listed limits on punitive damages awarded and limits on non financial damages awarded as a further measure to be taken. “Pain and suffering” has practically been stretched beyond any plausible reality in many lawsuits now and this would reduce the elasticity of such claims into the future.

While it remains every person’s right to pursue justice in the United States through the legal system, President Bush and other proponents of limited awards are making an effort to bring some reasonable limits back into play now that personal injury law suits have become so abundant now.

Getting Second Opinions on Personal Injury Without Risking Damage to Your Case

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

If you have been injured in some kind of accident or other circumstance and feel that you want to pursue the matter in a personal injury case, there are some things you must take care of first.

Health is very important and any injury that warrants a visit to the Doctor should not be delayed. Seeking medical attention when you are hurt is simply a smart thing to do.

If you seek medical attention and the matter is taken care of, you may then think about all the factors in the case and determine whether you want to pursue compensation from the other party. This is generally done simply by contacting them and discussing the matter and letting them know that if you did have any out-of-pocket medical expenses that your insurance did not already cover. Many people do not choose to pursue the matter any further.

If you are not happy with the outcome of your visit to the Doctor, however, you may wonder whether you should seek a second opinion. Whether or not you choose later to pursue a personal injury suit, your first thought should be for your health and wellbeing. As in any health matter, if you feel the need for a second medical opinion, you should always seek one. The most important matter is not whether this will damage any chances you may have in a personal injury suit, but your health! If you were sure your arm was broken and your Doctor didn’t think it warranted even so much as an x-ray, wouldn’t you be a little concerned? Injuries from incidents that may later be law suits are no different than injuries sustained in any other way! Get a second opinion because your health is the most important factor here.

Clearly, you would not risk your health for the sake of some kind of monetary carrot dangling at the end of a rope in front of you. You should never, ever fail to seek medical attention or even second (or third) opinions simply to as to avoid damaging any law suit you may be considering.

While many personal injury firms come on your television set several times a day loudly letting you know that you “should” be compensated for every thing that ever happens to you, law suits are not always in order and many people choose not to see them as a way of dealing with what life has thrown at them. On the other hand, many people are able to use a personal injury law suit to get insurance companies to pay out on claims that should have been covered but were rejected.

Everyone’s case is unique but one thing is true for all of them. Getting to a Doctor or two to take care of your medical needs should never come second. If you have a lawyer who tells you not to see your doctor, get a new lawyer.

Finding the Right Personal Injury Attorney Means Better Chance at Success

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

When you are in search of a personal injury lawyer, just as in any other matter, you don’t want to hire the wrong person for the job. You want the right lawyer, with the right experience and the right success rate, not just the one with the loudest television commercials.

There are some things you should think about before you head off to the first lawyer’s office listed in the phone book. The first thing to do is make a list of questions and contact more than one office to narrow down your search. There are several ways to get names of lawyers you may want to consider.

· Referrals from people you know who have used a personal injury lawyer

· Referral services that list professionals and their qualifications

· Referral from other lawyers

Once you have obtained some names, you will want to call the law offices to find out more information. Some of the questions that can help you narrow your search:

· Does this lawyer charge for the initial consultation?

· Does this lawyer have a minimum amount they want to be able to sue for in order to take a case and what is that amount?

· Does this lawyer work for plaintiffs or defendants?

Once you have contacted the law offices and asked your questions, it is a good idea to narrow your list down to three lawyers that fit your needs. You can then make appointments with those three lawyers in order to help you determine if one of them is a good fit for you. This is very hard to do without a personal meeting.

When you go into the personal meeting you will need to be prepared to discuss the information you have about your case. Take everything with you pertaining to the case. That includes any of the following that you have:

· Medical Bills and Receipts

· Pictures

· Insurance Policies

· Police Reports

· Personal Notes

The lawyer will want to talk about the incident and will ask you a lot of questions about it. Be prepared to answer everything including personal questions.

You will have questions to ask as well. Some of them might be:

· Will this lawyer handle your case personally or will someone else be doing it?

· What is this lawyer’s success rate?

· How would this lawyer want to proceed with your case?

After you have met with the chosen lawyers, you may feel you have enough information to make a decision about who to hire to help you. You may simply feel more comfortable with one than with the others. You may be very impressed with the success of one in comparison to the others. No-one can really tell you what one thing to base your decision on, so don’t rush and make the decision that feels right to you based on all the information you have and on the answers you got from each lawyer when you met with them.

Assessing Whether Personal Injury Should be a Court Matter

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

When someone sustains a personal injury, they often find themselves in the position of deciding whether or not they want to pursue compensation via legal means.

There are several things to think about when making this decision and you will want to consider the details of each one before you do make that choice.

· Did you have to pay for medical attention?

· Have you been unsuccessful in getting a settlement from insurance?

· Are you willing to spend the time and effort needed to pursue this legally?

· Do you believe in accidents?

· Do you believe someone should always have to pay for what happens to you?

Many people decide to take advantage of free consultations the many personal injury lawyers offer. This can sometimes help you sort through whether your case is something that might be resolvable with legal help.

If you do visit a lawyer about your case, you should be prepared before you visit. They will want to know all the details of your case, so make sure you are clear on everything and bring any notes you made right after the accident.

Bring your medical bills or other bills that were directly related to the injury. A personal injury lawyer needs all the proof you have in order to determine whether or not they feel you have a viable case. In cases where someone feels they do not have the money or the time to seek medical attention for their injuries, there is no actual proof of their injury. Generally, if you don’t take your own injuries seriously enough to seek help for them, you are unlikely to be given compensation from someone else for them either.

When considering your options, you should be aware that many personal injury suits never actually make it to court. If you do pursue compensation in the legal arena, you may well find an out of court settlement is how your matter is brought to a close. The number of such cases that actually end up in court is quite small.

It is important to not allow yourself to be talked into taking out a personal injury lawsuit simply because the lawyer you see insists on working for free until you get a settlement. It is always a good rule in life to not jump on any bandwagon that you have to be convinced to jump onto. If you have serious reservations about pursuing this as a legal matter, then perhaps you should not do it.

In the end, no-one can tell anyone else whether their personal injury case is something worth pursuing legally or not. It is a personal injury and it is a personal decision as well that involves one’s beliefs, their philosophy of life as well as the degree of injury. Make yourself aware of your options and then make your own decision about the matter based on your research and your own personal feelings about the matter.