What Slip and Fall Liability Clients Need to Know

Slip and Fall Liability clients want to know four basic pieces of information about their personal injury lawyer:

1. Can this case be won?
2. How long will it take?
3. What is your approach to cases similar to theirs?
4. Have you handled many previously?

This may be slightly different than information the personal injury attorney wants to convey to slip and fall liability clients. There is, of course, a different set of information for each side in a case, the defendant and the plaintiff. Both should contact their attorney immediately.

If the client is the plaintiff, you must understand that they are likely operating from a mood of surprise, possible fear, and quite frequently pain that can be severe or debilitating. Head, neck, spine and other joint pain can be long lasting and disruptive. The slip and fall liability client needs to know that damages can be claimed for all related medical and recuperative services for their injury. The client also should know that these cases can drag on for months to years before a settlement or court award is made.

If the client is the defendant in a slip and fall liability case, they need to know that they will be pursued for any and all possible damages from the injury. They need to document the situation with regard to time, conditions, weather related activity, normal care at the business, hazard control and how the incident was handled and by whom. They need to provide all photographs and documentation, as will the plaintiff. A witness list with contact information should be assembled.

Explain exactly how the law office conducts this type of business, including free consultations, billing, out-of-pocket costs, meetings, and settlement negotiation procedures. Stay in contact with each other; the case could stretch out for a long time. This is exactly the right time to let a defendant or plaintiff know important facts about your legal experience, qualifications, contact personnel, and to let them know how many similar cases you and your firm has won previously. Tracing liability and negligence can be difficult and time consuming.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability falls under the heading of tort law. It is an area of regulation that assigns the responsibility for introducing safe and harmless consumer products to the general public. When cases of product liability are brought before the court, they frequently involve the manufacturers of the goods, the distributors or suppliers, sometimes also the retailers or independent sales agents.

A big part of product liability involves legal action due to faulty air bags, improperly designed cars, such as the famous SUV rollover cases, lead poisoning because of children’s toys, groundwater contamination and also defective appliances. Cases of product liability — at times — also touch on different areas of litigation, such as personal injury cases, wrongful death suits and class action consumer suits for fiscal compensation.

Even as consumer protection is at the heart of a good many product liability litigations, at times it is a company’s failure to honor its warranties that becomes a hotly debated issue. A breach of warranty affects a large class of consumers and oftentimes results in far-reaching product recalls, fix-it kits that are made available to affected consumers free of charge and also the discontinuation of a product. The latter occurred just recently when side-drop cribs fell into disrepute over the infant deaths and provable injuries they caused.

While a consumer considering a product liability action may not always understand all the legal options, a highly skilled attorney who specializes in this area of tort law is quick to separate issues of manufacturing defects from potential design defects and marketing defects. Occasionally a product liability case may fall into the category of a ‘strict liability’ case, which actually affects all manufacturers, distributors and retailers of a product, whether an individual brand is involved or not.

In a few instances the law covering product failures or hazards applies, even if the faulty use is directly related to the consumer. Although it may seem unfair to the business entities, it is noteworthy that manufacturers have a duty to warn consumers of the results that potential misuse could produce, even if they are considered off-label use. A good example here is the required warning that shampoo is to be used only externally, which allows manufacturers to avoid product liability in case of ingestion.

What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is an area of the law concerned with making the proprietor of a piece of property (whether a residence, a business, or an open plot of land) responsible for any injuries that might occur on that property. The winds of decision have changed quite a bit in recent years when it comes to this area of law. It used to be that the proprietor of a piece of property found it difficult to defend himself against such claims. Now many states have laws in effect that are very much in favor of the proprietor, putting a larger burden of evidence on the back of the plaintiff. For this reason, it is important to contact a lawyer with extensive experience with these cases if you wish to bring a complaint.

When it comes to premises liability cases, the first order of business will be to determine if the individual filing suit can be classified as an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. This classification will go a long way towards determining what type of evidence the plaintiff will have to present to make a case and what types of defense might be open to the possessor of the land. Under normal circumstances, the proprietor will be burdened with a higher degree of duty to an invitee. This invitation could be express or implied, as in the case of a retail establishment. It’s likely that the possessor will be held with the duty of routinely inspecting their establishment to make sure there is no undue risk to invitees.

A licensee is treated in a different manner. An individual is classified as a licensee if they are on the defendant’s property for reasons that are non-commercial in nature. A guest in a social situation would fall under this classification. The possessor in this instance may be held liable for damages if the plaintiff can prove they knew of potential danger but took no steps to warn the licensee.

In the final case–that of a trespasser–the law swings firmly to the side of the defendant. Unless they knew of the trespassers, they have no duty under the law to make their establishment safe for the plaintiff, regardless of whether or not the trespasser was there for an unlawful reason.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is defined as an act of negligence conducted by a health care professional toward a patient. In a medical malpractice case, the quality of treatment supplied by the health care provider varies from what is the acceptable recognized standard of practice within the medical community, causing either injury or death to the patient.

In order to properly establish a successful medical malpractice claim, the patient must be able to determine the four rudiments of the tort of negligence. These elements are as follows:

A Duty to the Patient was Owed

A legal duty to the patient is present in the event that the health care provider or other medical professional assumes treatment and care of the patient.

A Duty to the Patient was Breached

The legal duty to the patient was breached in that the medical provider did not comply with the appropriate standard of health care. A breach in duty should be proven either by obvious fault of the health care provider to provide adequate care or by expert testimony. An obvious error that speaks for itself is referred to in the legal field as the doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur.

The Breach in Duty Resulted in Injury

A breach in the legal duty of the health care provider to provide a specific standard of care to the patient was a direct cause of injury or death to the patient.

Damages to the Patient

In order to establish a sound basis for a medical malpractice claim, the patient must have incurred resulting damages in the form of either monetary or emotional loss. These damages must be in direct connection to the breach in duty.

Regulations and Statute of Limitations

The regulations and standards regarding medical malpractice vary by jurisdiction within individual countries. Health care professionals are required by law to maintain liability insurance in an effort to offset the risks of medical malpractice lawsuits. Additionally, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed by the patient, or representative of the patient, within a given amount of time, as set forth by the statute of limitations within the common law legal system. The statutes for each individual type of medical malpractice differ by jurisdiction.

What is a Personal Injury Law?

While understandings of the definition of a personal injury lawyer vary somewhat from state to state, there are certain universal commonalities. A personal injury lawyer, in short, is an attorney who offers legal representation to individuals who claim to have suffered injuries of a physical or psychological nature as a consequence of the actions of another party. The other party cited for fault could be anyone from a private individual to an organization, business or even a branch of government. Consequently, personal injury lawyers are expected to be more than usually knowledgeable concerning tort law, which is the area of law specifically concerned with civil wrongs, including damages which may or may not be economical rendered to a person, their rights or their reputation.

While personal injury lawyers have generally undergone legal training which allows them to practice most common fields of law, most will limit themselves exclusively to tort law. The vast majority will focus even more specifically on the area of tort law concerned with injuries sustained at work, medical malpractice, the classic “slip and fall” accidents and damage caused by shoddy work or faulty products.

A personal injury lawyer may also be known as a trial lawyer, although this term may be misleading in that most cases handled by such lawyers are settled out of court rather than going to trial. The fees rendered to a personal injury lawyer for their services vary largely depending upon a range of factors, chief among which is the sheer amount of time spent on the case. Their payment may also be dependent on the outcome of the case, often advertised as a “No Win, no Fee” service. Other personal injury lawyers may charge a flat fee for each case, with some preferring to charge by the hour as a standard.

A personal injury lawyer may operate professionally either as an individual lawyer or as a member of a small, mid-sized or large practice. Many clients opt to hire solo practitioners for smaller cases as the larger firms are often unwilling to take on cases that are unlikely to ultimately prove particularly lucrative.

Sports Related Brain Injuries

There are many positive benefits to participating in sports, which is why so many parents are anxious for their children to play one sport or another. While there are plenty of safety measures in place for most major sports, enough isn’t usually done to sufficiently guard against brain injuries. When most of us think of sports-related brain injuries, we think of the freak accidents that occur once in a blue moon, incapacitating players and leaving them in vegetative states. The truth is, though, that more than 300,000 traumatic brain injuries are caused by sports and recreation activities each year – and they’re not always readily apparent.

An Increased Risk of Degenerative Brain Disease

Studies are increasingly showing that small, repetitive brain injuries can cause major problems later on down the line. Approximately 20% of people who experience repeated trauma to their brains will end up developing degenerative brain disease and other related disorders. Although the research into this phenomenon is far from complete, studies suggest that repeated head trauma can cause brain cells to shrivel; damage might not become obvious for years. Once it’s in motion, though, that damage becomes progressively worse.

Risk Factors for Sports-Related Brain Injuries

The sport that is probably best known for causing brain injuries has to be football. The rough nature of the game often causes concussions and other forms of trauma. Studies have shown that once a concussion occurs, it’s much easier to experience another one. In other words, players become more susceptible to brain trauma the more often it occurs.

Football isn’t the only sport that can cause brain injuries and trauma, though. Among young kids, soccer is one of the most worrisome activities; this is largely due to the practice of “heading” soccer balls, or punting them with one’s head. Due to the repetitive nature of this activity, the same issues that often plague football players can plague soccer players. In both cases, learning and memory problems can develop over time. Any sort of trauma to the head has to be taken seriously, then, and measures should be made to avoid such trauma at all costs.

Motorcycle Accidents in the US

While in years past motorcycles enjoyed a more positive reputation in pop culture, nowadays most consider these vehicles to be as dangerous as they are exciting. Indeed, there are numerous numbers to back up this position, with the motorcycle accident statistics in the US suggesting that motorbikes are perhaps the most dangerous mode of transport commonly used in America. Furthermore, it’s evidently not always the recklessness of bikers themselves that contributes to the risk involved in riding a motorcycle. The statistics show that distracted drivers, manufacturing faults, oversized vehicles and treacherous weather conditions are all responsible for a significant number of motorcycle accidents each year.

What follow are some of the more pertinent motorcycle accident statistics in the US derived from the 2008 report, the most recent accurate report available.

  • Some 5,290 motorbike riders were killed in 2008, which represents a two-percent increase from 2007.
  • 59%, nearly three in five, of those killed in 2008 were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident.
  • 30%, nearly 1600, of the bikers killed in 2008 were found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above.
  • Around 96,000, roughly the population of Boulder, CO, were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2008.
  • Bikers were involved in 14% of fatal vehicle accidents in 2008.
  • 35% of motocycle operators killed in 2008 were speeding at the time of the accident.
  • 47% (2,554) of motorbikes involved in fatal accidents underwent a collision with another vehicle.
  • When considered in terms of distance covered, motorcycle operators are 37 times more likely than car drivers to die in an accident, and nine times more likely to suffer an injury.
  • A quarter of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2008 involved a collision with a stationary object. For comparison, only 19% of fatal car accidents, 14% of fatal light truck accidents and 4% of fatal heavy truck accidents involved such a collision.
  • A quarter of those who died in motorcycle accidents in 2008 did not hold a valid license at the time of their accident.
  • In 2008, 346 motorbike riders between the ages of fifteen and twenty were killed in motorcycle accidents, and a further 8,000 suffered injuries.
  • 35% of these young bikers were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident.
  • 43% of these young bikers were either unlicensed or holding an invalid license at the time of their accident.
  • 13% of the female motorcycle riders aged fifteen to twenty killed in a motorcycle accident in 2008 were found to have been drinking shortly prior to the crash.
  • Double that number, 26%, of young male riders were found to have been drinking shortly prior to the crash.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer

The personal injury lawyer has gotten a bad reputation. Frequently derided as an ‘ambulance chaser’ by those who do not fully understand the extent of the professional’s function, these litigators are actually in the business of putting lives back together.

Within the scope of an average personal injury settlement or litigation, the attorney ensures that a person suffering from a traumatic injury — or act of negligence — does not lose the family home because of medical bills or an inability to work. A personal injury lawyer acts as a facilitator for finding adequate medical care, ensuring the availability of funds to pay for the care and also mitigating long-term losses in the form of a financial settlement.

Someone suffering in the aftermath of a personal injury will be best served by looking for an experienced personal injury lawyer; preferably someone who specializes in the type of injury that was sustained. Meet with a few professionals in the field and get a personal sense of comfort and ease. Is the litigator listening and taking notes? Does the attorney take the time to answer questions and offer advice? Are there constant interruptions during the interview?

Another hallmark of an excellent personal injury lawyer is the team approach that the expert takes when handling the client’s case. The attorney should introduce the client to the office staff who will be handling a lot of the legwork that is involved in the case. This makes it possible to get status updates, quick answers and also provide additional information at the convenience of the affected client — who no longer has to wait for a return phone call from the legal representative.

Of course, ultimately it comes down to one question only: how well taken care of does the would-be client feel with the personal injury lawyer? If the professional relationship ‘clicks,’ the office location, all the trimmings of an outwardly successful practice and the size of the law firm simply do not matter.

Hit and Run Accidents

While there are laws in each of the fifty states that clearly outline the illegality of leaving the scene of a car accident, there are still those who ignore both the law and basic decency. A common scenario for such is that in which a driver accidentally collides with an unoccupied vehicle in a parking lot or other confined, high-traffic space and flees the scene without leaving insurance details or otherwise attempting to make contact with the owner of the other vehicle.

While such can throw up all manner of insurance difficulties for the other driver, such poor behavior is a minor annoyance when compared to more serious instances of hit-and-run car accidents. In a small number of cases, the party at fault in a collision which causes personal injury or death may not only flee the scene but neglect to alert the necessary authorities that an accident has occurred.

Unfortunately, in many cases such offenders manage to escape scot-free. Indeed, it can be extremely difficult to identify the perpetrator once they have initially fled the scene, particularly if they manage to cover the damage to their own vehicle before they are found. More commonly, however, a witness will be able to record their license plate number. Some witnesses will even go as far as to pursue the driver until they stop and submit the relevant details or turn themselves in. Alternatively, they may be able to tail the driver in order to prove their details and location to the authorities.

Even in cases where such is not possible, it may still be possible to identify and prosecute the hit-and-run driver. If the accident is sufficiently serious, police may alert local mechanics to the details of the damage rendered to the driver’s car, and they may therefore be able to report the driver to the authorities when they attempt to have their vehicle repaired. This may allow police to further investigate the vehicle for evidence of blood, paint from the other vehicle or other evidence which can confirm that the vehicle was, in fact, the one involved in the hit-and-run accident.

Forms of Nursing Home Abuse

When the time comes to move a loved one into a nursing home or long-term care facility, most of us assume that they will be treated with dignity and compassion. Sadly, though, nursing home abuse is an all-too-common phenomenon in today’s world. Simply assuming that your loved one will be tended to with professionalism is foolhardy at best – and downright dangerous at worst. In order to detect nursing home abuse, it helps to familiarize yourself with the many different ways in which it can occur – and to remember that the elderly don’t often realize they’re being abused, or are too embarrassed and ashamed to say anything about it.

Physical and Sexual Abuse

Out of all of the different types of nursing home abuse that can occur, physical and sexual abuse tend to be the most upsetting. Knowing that the people who are charged with caring for your loved one have been physically or sexually assaulting them can be terrifying. Physical abuse can occur in a number of ways. Sometimes, the elderly are battered around by staff members when they refuse to cooperate; other times, nursing home residents are restrained against their will by impatient and uncaring personnel. Drugs are also occasionally used to keep nursing home patients docile.

Sexual abuse is one topic that is rarely brought to light when it comes to nursing homes. Sadly, incapacitated elderly patients are sometimes taken advantage of by staff members in long-term care facilities. This type of abuse tends to be the most difficult to detect; it’s also very difficult to prove.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse – including humiliation, intimidation, isolation, threats and shouting – is another common form of nursing home abuse. Unlike physical abuse, though, it doesn’t leave any noticeable marks or scars on its victims. A vicious cycle often develops, too, since elderly victims are kept quiet with threats and intimidation.

Financial Abuse

It’s all too easy for the elderly to be taken advantage of financially, even when they still live on their own. The problem is even more widespread in nursing homes, where staff members can pilfer through residents’ belongings, stealing their possessions and engaging in identity theft. Sometimes, medications are stolen, too.

As outlined above, there is no single definition for nursing home abuse. It takes many different forms and is a reality that everyone with elderly parents and relatives must be educated about.