Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

April 2015 Archives

Prosecutors charged Bumble Bee Foods and two managers after a worker was cooked to death in an industrial oven along with six tons of tuna. Plant Operations Director Angel Rodriguez and former safety manager Saul Florez could face 3 years in prison and the Bumble Bee could pay $1.5 million in fines for violating workplace safety standards.

But what about the family of the man who died, Jose Melena? Does workers’ compensation cover death in the workplace? Or will survivors need to file a wrongful death claim?

Can You Really Sue City Hall?

Have you ever been to San Francisco's city hall? Like so many across the nation, it's huge and beautiful. Inside, past security and a dark hallway, you enter into a bright atrium with a grand staircase and a beautiful dome. But let's say as you walk up the staircase to get your picture taken, you slip on a puddle, fall backwards, bonk your head, and break a leg.

If this happened in a store, you would sue the store owner for your slip and fall. But, can you sue the government for a fall in city hall?

Top Injury Legal Questions From FindLaw Answers

You've got questions ... we've got answers. If you have not yet asked or answered a question in FindLaw's Answers community, what are you waiting for? This amazing free resource supports a dynamic community of legal consumers and attorneys helping each other out. Simple as that.

We see a lot of great questions in our Answers community every day. Here's a look at some recent questions relating to injuries, accident, and torts from our FindLaw Answers boards.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, only 70 percent of recalled vehicles ever get the necessary repairs.

Sometimes, owners ignore recalls. Sometimes, owners never get recall letters. Often, people buy cars used and don’t know that the cars were recalled. The law does not require owners to notify subsequent buyers of recalls on their cars. Ultimately, the responsibility to check for recall rests with the current owner of the car.

So if you’ve missed a recall, and got in a car accident that might have been caused by a defect in your car, can you still sue?

Car accidents are never pleasant, but they can really spoil a perfect vacation when they occur while you are traveling. And an injury can make it even worse.

In many ways, international car accidents are handled in similar ways to those at home. But there might be some big differences, depending on where you’re visiting. Here are some things to consider if you are injured in a car accident in another country.

Construction is a hazardous job filled with perils that could cause illness, injuries, and even death.

According to OSHA, 20 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2013 occurred in construction. This equals 828 deaths. While there are many sources of construction site injuries, construction's Fatal Four accounts for over 57 percent of construction workers' deaths in 2013.

If a patient dies because of misconduct by doctors or medical personnel, surviving family members may be able to recover damages by bringing a wrongful death lawsuit. And if medical malpractice causes a mother to die during her pregnancy or childbirth, her survivors, including the baby could file a wrongful death of the mother claim.

While these claims may look like standard wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuits, there are some considerations to keep in mind in the situation that occurs when a mother has died before or during childbirth.

Not everybody gets to work in a nice quiet office. Many people work in loud factories or on construction sites with constant booming and heavy machinery noise.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 30 million people are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work every year. Long term exposure to high levels of noise can cause permanent tinnitus or hearing loss. OSHA sets employee noise exposure limits at 90dBA for 8 hours a day, and only 2 hours of exposure to 100 dBA sound levels.

So if you experience hearing loss while working in a noisy environment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

Many of us don't think twice when friends ask to borrow our car. We trust them.

But, what happens when they get into an accident? Are you liable for the damage, even if you weren't driving?

If you've read the news lately, it seems there are class action suits everywhere, from GM to Comcast to Vitaminwater. Usually, they have nothing to do with you or me.

But, if you think you may have an injury or claim similar to the class action, how do you join? How can you find out if there is a class action lawsuit for your injury?

A broken down car can be heartbreaking. You just want your car back and running like new again. And most of the time, car repair shops take good care of us and our automobiles.

But about the times they don't? What happens if you get your car back from the shop with the same problems it had when you sent it in? While you may not know a radiator from a rocking arm, you do have rights when it comes to getting your car repaired the right way.

We suffered all winter, made it through spring, and now we can finally get back out to the ballpark. Attending baseball games is one of the purest joys of the summer, and there's nothing quite like America's pastime.

Unfortunately, going to a game isn't without its dangers, so here are three (plus one) common injuries to be on the lookout for while at the old ball game.

5 Insurance Terms to Know

Insurance is more complicated than it should be. Yet, it pervades all areas of our lives, from health insurance, to car insurance, to home insurance.

To deal with this major part of your life, here are five insurance terms you should know:

Generally, when we think of medical malpractice with think of doctors making diagnostic, medication, or surgical errors. But we don't tend to think of mistakes happening in a dentist's office.

Truth is, we trust dentists with our health just as much as cardiologists, orthopedists, or surgeons. And, sadly, mistakes in dental care can be just as costly. Here is a look at some of the common dental malpractice issues and how victims can use medical malpractice claims to recover for their injuries.

According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers in the United States is uninsured.

Usually, in a car accident, the party at fault’s insurance covers the damages. But, with nearly 14 percent of drivers uninsured, what do you do when you’re unlucky enough to run into one of them? What do you do if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver?

Injury lawsuits can be complicated, especially those involving a large number of people. Class action lawsuits can allow a group of people to collectively file a single injury claim, and they can have different rules for how and when they can be filed.

One of these differences has to do with the statute of limitations, which limits the time you have to bring a case. So how do these rules differ? And if the statute of limitations has run out on your case, can you still join a class action lawsuit?

Are you afraid to make a workers’ comp claim? Afraid your employer will fire you? Afraid another employer won’t hire you because of your workers’ comp claim?

Don’t be. Your have rights and are usually protected by the law.

Let’s say you slip and fall in a county courthouse. Or you’re riding a city bus when it crashes. If you’re injured, you may have an injury claim against the government.

And while all injury lawsuits have time limits, known as the statute of limitations, cases against city, state, or federal entities often have shorter limits and additional filing requirements. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re wondering whether it’s too late to sue the government for an injury.

Americans work too hard. Because of long hours and work stress, many of us are working ourselves towards a heart attack.

If you get a heart attack, either at work or at home, can you get workers’ compensation?

Nothing says sunshine and relaxation like a bout of vomiting and diarrhea. Yuck!

More than 200 passengers on two cruise ships, Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas and Celebrity's Infinity, have been struck low with norovirus. The CDC is currently investigating the norovirus outbreak and monitoring clean up procedures on the two ships.

If you are one of the poor souls who got sick on a cruise ship, can you sue?

Maybe you don't like needles. Maybe you don't want to spend the last months of your life undergoing chemotherapy.

It's your body, but do you have the right to refuse medical treatment?

Your job may be full of hazards, such as heavy boxes and dangerous machinery. However, did you ever expect the hazard to come from that tasty hamburger you had at the company cafeteria?

Food poisoning doesn't just hurt your stomach. It can hurt your wallet when you have to miss work and pay to see the doctor.

So, if you get food poisoning at work, can you get workers' compensation?

There are two major legal protections of our medical privacy: the physician-patient privilege and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Both preclude doctors from disclosing your medical records to third parties without your consent.

But what happens to your medical records after you die? What if you need access to a deceased loved one or family member's medical records? Here's how death affects medical privacy under HIPAA and the physician-patient privilege.

You’re hurt and out of work, so who should compensate you? While they both aim to provide income for people too hurt to work, workers’ compensation insurance and Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) function a little bit differently.

So if your workers’ compensation claim is denied, can you receive SSDI benefits instead? The answer may depend on if you’re filing for benefits from the state or federal government.

What Is Subrogation?

You’ve just gotten into a car crash. You were entirely innocent, and the other driver was 100 percent at fault. Your insurance paid your medical bills and your car repair bills. You think everything is all done. But, the insurer is contacting you and asking questions about what happened and who is at fault. They keep throwing around the words subrogation and lawsuit.

What is subrogation? Should you be worried?

We've all heard of doctor-patient confidentiality or doctor-patient privilege many times on television.

We know that doctors can't disclose our private medical information without our permission. However, as with all things law related, there are exceptions. Sometimes doctors are required by state law to disclose certain confidential information.

Is there an exception that will allow your doctor to testify against you at trial?

Stress at work is so ubiquitous that many of us accept it as a way of life.

However, if your stress is caused by the conditions at your work, you may have a workers’ compensation claim.

If you have ever had food poisoning, you have our sincerest sympathies.

Food poisoning is the result of consuming food contaminated with a bacteria or virus. Symptoms of food poisoning include fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and dehydration. Food poisoning can be caused by unclean hands when cooking, undercooked or raw foods, and improper storage which transmit the bacteria and viruses.

Here are three most common types of food poisoning:

Several lawsuits and even an Olympic athlete are alleging that the popular birth control method NuvaRing is dangerous and possibly deadly. The lawsuits claim the ring causes blood clots, which, if they reach the lungs, can cause fatal pulmonary embolisms and cardiac arrest.

These accusations have continued after Merck, NuvaRing's manufacturer, paid $100 million last year to settle numerous lawsuits.

What is Wrongful Pregnancy?

You've had your tubes tied, or your spouse had a vasectomy. So, "Congratulations, you're pregnant!" is something you never expected to hear again.

This exact thing happened to one Illinois mother. She didn't want any more children because both she and her husband carried the gene for sickle cell disease. The woman went to her doctor for a tubal ligation on her left fallopian tube. Her right ovary had already been removed due to a prior medical complication, so tubal ligation of her right fallopian tube was unnecessary. The doctor tied, excised, and cauterized her right tube and left the left tube untouched!

When she got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter with sickle cell disease, she sued the doctor for wrongful pregnancy.

Battlefields are among the most dangerous places on earth, and injuries are bound to happen. And while most employees are covered by traditional workers' compensation benefits, is the same true for people injured during military operations?

The answer, as always in the legal realm, is: it depends. Let's take a look at the law differs for members of the armed services and for civil contractors.

Maybe your neck is still hurting from that fender bender six months ago. Or the other driver still hasn’t paid to repair the damage to your car. Either way, how long you have to file a claim following a car accident?

Every legal claim has what is known as a statute of limitation, meaning if don’t file your lawsuit within a certain amount of time, you will lose the right to sue forever. These time limits vary depending on jurisdiction and the type of claim involved, so let’s take a look at the statute of limitations for car accident claims.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), neck sprains and strains, also known as whiplash, are the most frequently reported injuries in U.S. insurance claims.

Whiplash is most often associated with high speed rear end collisions. However, whiplash can occur during low speed car accidents or even from a hard smack on the back. Whiplash occurs when the head is whipped forward and back causing damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck.

Whiplash injuries can cause an unthinkable amount of pain and cost you a lot of money. Here are three things to know about whiplash injuries:

I would not wish back pain on anybody.

It can be a constant dull ache affecting everything you do in a day, or it can be an excruciating stab in the back that can make it hard to even stand up. Back pain can be so pervasive that you may have to miss work, along with pretty much everything else in your life.

While you can get workers’ compensation for a work-related back injury, can you get workers’ comp for back pain?

3 Easter Injuries to Avoid

Easter is only a few days away! Are you ready?

Easter is a religious holiday for some people. For the rest of us, Easter means fluffy bunnies and chicks, candy, pretty decorated boiled eggs, and the vicious Easter egg hunt. Although, the Easter festivities aren't all fun and games. They can be fraught with hazards.

Here are three Easter injuries to avoid:

There are a few ways to resolve a personal injury claim after an accident. Insurance could cover medical expenses, or a case could go to trial and a jury could issue a verdict and monetary award. The majority of cases, however, are concluded with an out of court settlement.

Often, these settlements are negotiated by attorneys from both sides. But what happens if the other party, or their attorney, contacts you directly, or before you’ve hired your own attorney? Should you accept an out of court settlement?

Accepting a settlement directly from the other party or without consulting an attorney can be risky — here are a few things to keep in mind:

Is My Injury Work Related?

To get workers’ compensation for an injury, it must be work related.

If you slip and fell at work or broke your leg while stocking the shelves, it’s easy to show that the injury was work related. But, how do you prove an injury is work related if it happened away from work, or if it’s not a physical injury, or if the injury developed over time?

So, is your injury work-related?