Social Media and Personal Injury Claims

Social media is more and more a part of everyone’s life. And while it brings people together and keeps us all connected, social media can also have legal consequences. Stalking, cyber bullying, harassment, libel — these are just some of the legal liabilities that can arise out of social media.

Another one that may not immediately come to mind when you think of social media, is the impact it can have on your personal injury lawsuit.

If you have been injured and have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries or damage, or are thinking of filing a lawsuit, here are a few things you should consider before you Tweet, post to Facebook, or upload that YouTube video.

Social Media Posts Can Be Used Against You.

Personal injury cases often involve seeking damages (money) to recover for medical bills and limitations caused by physical injuries arising out of the incident.

However, you may be able to recover damages for the emotional damage as well. A personal injury plaintiff can recover for mental and emotional trauma and distress caused by an accident or tortious event. A plaintiff suffering emotional injury or damage can recover for things like: humiliation, depression, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness and more.

But here’s where social media can negatively impact your personal injury case. If you are making claims of emotional trauma and damage, yet you post videos and pictures of yourself having fun at a party, out drinking with the guys (or girls), gleefully dancing at your niece’s wedding, or standing in triumph at the top of Mount Kilamanjaro, these posts can be used against you at trial. They will undermine your claims of depression, sadness, fear or anxiety. No judge or jury will believe you.

Don’t Try Your Case in Social Media Posts.

On the other hand, you don’t want to post angry comments or diatribes about how rotten the defendant is and how he deserves to die/rot in hell/be taken to the cleaners. These kinds of comments will be found by the defense attorney —because part of the defense attorney’s job is to look for evidence to support his client’s side of the case, and looking on social media is a no-brainer—and they can be used against you. You may say things that you do not realize are admissions that can be used against you. Or, the defense may simply be able to twist and turn your posts into evidence that you are litigious (“sue-happy”), vindictive, or are exaggerating your claims to make a quick buck. Either way, these kinds of posts can be used to portray you in the worst possible light. And they will affect the judge’s and jury’s evaluation of you and the merits of your case. So, don’t do it.

What You Should Do.

So, what should you do then? Hire competent counsel, follow their advice, and keep your case out of the social media madness.

Personal injury cases are fraught with emotion and can be difficult to prove and to litigate. You need the advice of counsel to prevent you from unknowingly doing or saying things that may negatively impact your case and reduce the award you deserve.

We can help you protect your case and your rights.

#Don’t Wait to Speak to a Lawyer!

If you have been injured, we can help. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington.  We offer free consultations and we can help you. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Economic Loss and Personal Injury

 

When it comes to civil liability the remedy is almost always money. Unlike criminal law, in a civil case you can’t put the defendant in jail. So, when a civil litigant is injured, money (with few exceptions) is what he or she seeks from the defendant.

Money Damages

Money damages can be recovered in both tort cases (e.g. fraud, breach of contract) and personal injury cases (negligence). In this post, we are looking only at economic loss as it relates to personal injury cases.

The purpose of money damages in a personal injury case is to make the defendant compensate the plaintiff for the injury or damages he or she has suffered. In other words, to put the plaintiff in as good a position (not better) as he would have been if the accident or injury had never occurred.

A plaintiff in a personal injury case can recover two types of money damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses. They encompass things like, injury to reputation, mental distress, fear, humiliation, loss of sleep, loss of consortium etc. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” often refers to these non-economic damages.

Economic damages, on the other hand, refer to monetary losses. Things like lost wages, medical bills, and property damage come within this category.

Recovery for Economic Loss in a Personal Injury Action.

Unlike non-economic or pain and suffering damages, recovery for economic loss related to an accident or injury is generally easier to prove and easier to obtain. Very often a person’s economic losses can be calculated from documents, like medical bills, repair bills. Some economic damages you could recover in a personal injury case are:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Car repairs
  • Money to pay for household services you can no longer perform
  • Lost future wages (future income).

Certain economic damages, like lost earning capacity (wages you might have earned) can get a little complicated to establish. Some things the court will look at are: the plaintiff’s age, health, life expectancy, occupation, talents, skill, experience, and training. Past earnings are a factor in determining lost earning capacity, but the claim itself focuses on what might have been earned “but for” the accident. Remember, an experienced attorney can explain all your options to you and can help you receive all compensation you are entitled to.

Hire Personal Injury Counsel.

Economic loss is an important part of every personal injury case. We are here to help. We offer free consultations and we have offices throughout Oregon and in Washington. Contact us and set up your free consultation today!

Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Case

Life is unpredictable. One minute you’re picking through the vegetables at Sherm’s Thunderbird in Klamath Falls, and the next minute you’re flat on your back, under a pile of tomatoes, staring up at the ceiling.

A slip and fall can happen anywhere. And when it does, you need to know a few things.

What Caused It.

As we said, a slip and fall can occur anywhere, at any time. Sometimes people just trip over their own feet. But at other times, there is a condition on the property (water, a banana peel, snow, ice, etc.) that caused or contributed to it.

While property owners have a duty to keep their property in good repair so that others do not get hurt, not every condition will make the property owner liable for injuries sustained on the premises due to a slip and fall.  Generally, the owner’s liability will depend on whether or not he or she knew of the dangerous condition, took appropriate actions to maintain the property in a safe condition, or to warn people of potential dangers.  

Proving Liability for a Slip and Fall.

A “slip-and-fall” is a type of personal injury case. Slip and fall cases generally come under the broader category of “premises liability” actions.

In the world of personal injury actions, slip and fall cases can be some of the most difficult to prove.

Why?

Because there is a tension in the law when it comes to premises liability. While a property owner has a duty to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition, those entering on another’s property have their own duties as well. Each person assumes normal risks and every person is expected to be aware of, and avoid, dangerous conditions. A dangerous condition is one which presents an unreasonable risk to the person entering the property, and it must be one which the injured person could not have anticipated.

In a slip and fall case like the one we pose above, to prevail at trial, you must prove that the property owner knew a dangerous condition existed and that:

  • The owner (or possessor)  knew the condition existed yet negligently failed to correct it or warn guests about it; or
  • The condition existed for so long that the owner (or possessor) should have known about it and corrected it before the accident occurred.

For a property owner or possessor to be held liable, it must have been foreseeable that his negligence would create the danger at issue.

Many factors go into proving a slip and fall case.

Don’t Go It Alone!

If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall case, we can advise you as to your case. We provide free consultations and we have offices in Klamath Falls, Salem, Albany, Bend, Tigard and a number of other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. Contact us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568

Plaintiff’s Duty To Mitigate

Personal injury cases can get complicated pretty quick. Not only do they involve a lot of factors that can be difficult to prove —like a defendant’s duty, breach, causation and damages—but even when those hurdles have been met, a plaintiff, has obligations of his (or her) own that must be met. Even an innocent plaintiff who has been injured by someone else’s negligence must mitigate—or reduce— as much as possible, his damages.

The Duty to Mitigate.

The “duty to mitigate” (or “mitigation”) refers to the legal concept that requires a plaintiff who has been injured to reduce the damage that has been inflicted on him.

What?

Does that mean that someone who has been injured through no fault of his own has a duty to reduce the damage the other person caused him to suffer?

Yes, it does.

Every plaintiff has the obligation to take reasonable steps to avoid further loss and to minimize the consequences of the injury. In the context of a personal injury case, that means, for example, that you (as a plaintiff) have an obligation to seek medical attention, undergo surgery if recommended, or to seek other employment or re-train if necessary, or undertake any other reasonable steps necessary to mitigate as much as possible, the damage that was caused to you.

Why?

Because if you do not, the rule of mitigation of damages allows the judge or jury to reduce your right to recover that portion of your damages which the judge or jury finds you could have reasonably avoided.

How the Duty to Mitigate Works

It may be easiest to understand the way the duty to mitigate works by looking at an example. Let’s say that you are in a car accident and you break your leg. If your doctor recommends surgery as the only way to repair the break, and says you must stay off the leg for 6 months, and you refuse to have surgery and don’t stay off the leg for 6 months, you cannot later claim damages for the conditions that resulted from your refusal to have surgery and stay off the leg. If a reasonably prudent person would have followed the doctor’s advice, your damages will be reduced by the amount your failure to follow the doctor’s advice resulted in a lack of improvement in your leg, or aggravation of the break.

We Are Personal Injury Attorneys.

If you have been injured, we can help. We are personal injury attorneys with offices throughout Oregon. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.To set up an appointment, contact us here.

Wrongful Death Suits; Texting and Driving

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  driving while talking or texting on the cell phone claimed the lives of 3,477 people in 2015 alone. A study conducted in 2012 found that 660,000 American drivers use their cell phones while driving. Thirty-eight of the fifty states and the District of Columbia have anti-texting laws. Many states are moving towards bringing criminal charges against drivers convicted of causing fatalities while texting and driving, including motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Texting and Wrongful Death Lawsuits.

Texting while driving is not only distracting, it’s negligent. It has been said to be the equivalent of driving while intoxicated. In some states, if texting was a contributing factor in a fatal car accident, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death action.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents. Wrongful death actions are civil law litigations that allow a decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort committed by the defendant – in this case, texting while driving.

And when it comes to texting and driving wrongful death actions, the damages awarded can be astronomical. Consider this case:

  • A Florida jury awarded $8.8 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a young male driver who was speeding and texting his girlfriend.

Even where the victim does not die, but is injured, the damage awards can be significant, as in these cases:

  • A jury awarded a 15-year-old car accident victim in Georgia, $1.5 million for injuries she received when a texting driver hit her mother’s car.
  • In Florida, a woman who suffered traumatic brain injury and was left permanently disabled due to a distracted driver accident, was awarded $4.3 million.

No amount of money will ever compensate these victims or their families for their loss, of course. Nevertheless, it is clear that juries do not hesitate to award hefty damages in texting and driving cases not only where death ensues but where people are injured as well.

Limitations on Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action.

A wrongful death claimant may be able to recover for  the loss of financial, household support he or she would have gotten had their loved one lived, as well as for the loss of love, companionship, moral support, affection, and consortium. However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These actions are governed by statute. And each state has its own wrongful death statute. The only way to be certain whether you may be entitled to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one who was killed in a car accident due to texting and driving is to consult with competent counsel.

Don’t Text and Drive.

If you or someone you love has been killed or injured by a driver where texting and driving was or may have been a contributing factor to the accident, get in touch with us. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Toxic Torts and Personal Injury

Those of us who love the outdoors, fresh air, clean water, and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, are usually very aware of the danger of exposure to toxins or dangerous chemicals. And so we may do a number of things to reduce our risk of exposure. But sometimes, we have no control over whether we are exposed to dangerous chemicals. For example, John Travolta’s 1999 movie, A Civil Action was based on the true story of 8 Woburn, Massachusetts families whose children and spouses contracted and died of leukemia after the local water was contaminated by  W.R. Grace Co. Similarly, the movie, Erin Brockovich told the story of a legal assistant’s discovery that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the water supply in the town of Hinkley, California for 40 years. And, although it was never made into a movie, the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred off the coast of Alaska in 1989, dumped about 11 million gallons of oil into the water and devastated fishing communities.

The people who were exposed to these man-made disasters were severely injured or died.

Toxic Tort Litigation.

With the exception of claims covered exclusively by worker’s compensation, people who are exposed to and injured by toxins can seek redress through litigation and can usually recover damages through a personal injury case. These types of personal injury actions are called “toxic torts.” A toxic tort is a legal claim for harm caused by exposure to a dangerous substance like pesticides, asbestos, pharmaceutical drugs, black mold, oil spills, groundwater contamination, or any number of things.

What Happens if You Didn’t Realize You Were Exposed to Toxins?

A common issue in many toxic tort cases is that the injury (often in the form of a disease) doesn’t show up right away. For example, someone may be exposed to pesticide drift due to crop spraying, and may develop cancer, but it might not show up until 10 years after the initial event took place. Because most personal injury cases must be brought within 2  or 3 years (depending on your state’s statute of limitations) someone who does not find out until years later that he was exposed to a toxin which caused his injury, would not be able to sue the responsible party. To prevent this unfair result, the courts have developed a “discovery” principle. This principle prevents a plaintiff’s time to sue from starting to run until the plaintiff knew or should have known of his injury.

Causation. The Battle Begins.

Because of the delay between the damaging event and the plaintiff’s injury, not surprisingly, the battleground in many toxic tort cases is the issue of “causation.” The toxic tort plaintiff has to prove that his injury or illness was caused by the specific chemical used, manufactured or distributed by the defendant (depending on whether plaintiff’s theory is one of negligence or product liability) and not from some other cause, like exposure to some other chemical or drug, or smoking cigarettes.

Like they say, “it’s complicated.” That’s why you need competent counsel to guide you if you have been exposed, or believe you have been exposed to toxic substances.

Toxic Tort Attorneys.

If you or someone you love has been exposed to toxic chemicals or injured by  pharmaceutical drugs, black mold  or other toxins, we are here for you. Our personal injury attorneys in Washington and Oregon offer free consultations. Contact us by phone or email  to  set up your free consultation.

Wrongful Death Explained

Some of the saddest situations we encounter concern wrongful death lawsuits.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies or is killed as the result of the negligence or actions of another—  including murder —the surviving members of the victim’s family can bring a civil lawsuit for “wrongful death.” Because wrongful death is a civil tort, and not Penal Code violation, the legal standard for proving that the defendant wrongfully caused the death of the victim is far less than that required in criminal cases. As a result, it makes it easier to prove, especially where the civil case is based on the criminal case, as in a murder situation.

On the other hand, even if the surviving members of the victim’s family prove their case against the defendant, the defendant will not go to jail. Instead, he will be required to pay the family damages (i.e., money). That is not to say that the person who commits murder or commits other crimes associated with the victim’s death cannot or will not be prosecuted criminally, either before or after the civil case. The point is only that in a civil lawsuit, the remedy is money damages. In a criminal case, it is incarceration and restitution.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This type of lawsuit is the governed by statute. Each State has its own statutes governing wrongful death actions.

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents, fights, medical malpractice, job injuries, or criminal activity. Wrongful death actions allow the decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort. In addition, decedent’s representative can recover for the pain and suffering that the victim endured before death. This is because the personal injury action survives the death of the person who suffered the injury. “Survival actions” as they are called, can be brought to get compensation for the pain and suffering the victim endured.

Personal Injury Attorneys.

If you or someone you love has been injured or died because of another’s negligence or willful misconduct, call us. We can help. We have offices in Washington and throughout Oregon. To set up your free consultation, give us a call or send us an email .

Medical Malpractice Basics

When doctors make mistakes, the impact on their patients can be catastrophic. While most doctors typically provide their patients with the highest standard of care, there are times when things go terribly wrong. Medical malpractice cases are a type of personal injury case where a patient sues his or her doctor (and sometimes the nurses too) for improper or negligent medical care. An act of medical malpractice can arise out of a medical practitioner’s misdiagnosis of a disease, a bungled surgery, misuse of a machine or instrument, or even treating a patient without the patient’s permission.

More Than Just Not Good Treatment.

To rise to the level of medical malpractice, however, the doctor’s actions must constitute more than just not good treatment or care. The patient must be able to prove that the doctor was negligent, in other words, that what the doctor did or failed to do, fell below the standard of care for the medical profession.

Expert Testimony.

In most cases, to prove that a doctor’s treatment fell below the acceptable standard of care for doctors in the community where the alleged malpractice occurred, expert testimony will be required. A medical expert (usually another doctor) qualified in the same area of medicine as the defendant doctor, will have to testify to establish not only what the proper standard of care was, but that the defendant doctor fell below that standard. It can very often be difficult to find a doctor who is willing to testify to another doctor’s negligence.

Problems Proving Medical Malpractice Cases.

In addition to getting expert testimony, there are other factors that make proving a medical malpractice case difficult. Establishing malpractice can be difficult because doctors are often the ones who write the medical reports that form the basis for the lawsuit. It is not unheard of for health care providers to frame their reports in such a way so as to protect someone who was negligent.

The law has legal principles designed to deal with these situations. Nevertheless, medical malpractice cases can often require careful investigation, preparation and planning to be successful.

Speak to an Attorney.

If you or someone you love has been injured, misdiagnosed or treated without your permission, contact us. We are experienced personal injury attorneys and we can help. We have offices in Washington and throughout Oregon. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to our clients. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.