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.

Liability on a Cruise Ship.

There’s nothing like a cruise ship vacation. Sailing away into the sunset, sea gulls wheeling overhead, the roll of the ocean, the salty wind in your face…. not a care in the world.

That is, until you fall down the deck stairs, or slip in the shower in your cabin. Then its all hands on deck! to try and figure out whether the cruise ship is liable for your injuries.

Proving Cruise Ship Liability. Not Such Smooth Sailing.

Unfortunately, cruise ships have recently been attracting more attention for violent illnesses suffered by passengers and crew member assaults than their luxurious accommodations. If you are injured on a cruise ship, you have the right to recover for your injuries from the responsible party, just as you would if you were on land.

Cruise ships are common carriers (like airplanes, passenger trains or the bus). But they are also virtually floating cities. Despite their size and fancy amenities, many cruise ships unfortunately lack basic safety policies, procedures and protocols needed to protect their passengers from harm. Making matters worse, antiquated laws and contractual language that limits a passenger’s rights and remedies (your ticket), add to the flotsam and jetsam of cruise ship liability.

Proving personal injury cases that occurred on cruise ships are fraught with complexities — including choice of law issues, forum issues, disclaimers and limitations of liability etc. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that cruise ships are common carriers and are held to a “reasonable standard of care under the circumstances.” To hold a cruise ship liable for personal injuries, then, injured passengers must prove that the cruise ship was negligent in some way. It’s not enough to simply prove that you were injured while on board ship. You must prove that the cruise line was negligent or at fault.

This is very often quite difficult to do. Not surprisingly, many cruise ship injuries are caused when a passenger slips and falls; on deck, down the stairway, over a threshold, in the cabins. To hold a cruise ship liable for your injuries, you will have to do more than just prove you slipped and fell. For example, because federal and international shipping law mandates that cruise lines have thresholds in certain locations to keep the ship watertight, a cruise ship is not negligent for having thresholds as a design feature in the vessel. That means that if your injury was caused by tripping over a threshold, the cruise line will not be liable unless you can prove that they failed to put up necessary warning signs.

Cruise Ships Not Liable for Injuries Caused by Independent Contractors.

While cases have held that cruise lines are liable for the acts of their crew — even intentional acts, like assaults, the courts have frequently refused to hold cruise lines liable for injuries caused by independent contractors. For example, although a large part of any cruise involves on-land excursions, which may cruise lines arrange, many cases hold that cruise ships are not liable for injuries caused to passengers while they are taking part in on-land excursions. Similarly, it  has been held that cruise lines are not responsible for the acts of doctors or nurses, where the medical staff are  not cruise ship employees but are independent contractors.

Before You Go on Your Next Cruise, Contact Us. 

We can help you navigate your rights and the pitfalls of proving cruise ship liability if you have been injured. Take advantage of our free consultation and talk to one of our experienced attorneys today. Call us at 1-800-682-9568 or visit our website.

What You Should Know About First Party Benefits

No one likes to think about car accidents. Or car insurance. But while it might not be sexy, car insurance is critical. And knowing what “First Party Benefits” are and how they can protect you and your loved ones, can be immeasurably valuable.

What Are First Party Benefits?

In Oregon, all drivers are required to carry car insurance. Drivers are required to purchase minimum insurance coverage (limits) that includes: bodily injury (“BI”), property damage, personal injury protection (“PIP”), and uninsured motorist / underinsured motorist  (“UM/UIM”) coverage.

The State of Oregon requires all drivers to carry car insurance that complies with the amount mandated by the Financial Responsibility Law. That means you must purchase liability and UM/UIM coverage of at least  $25,000/$50,000.  It also means that you must purchase “no-fault” PIP insurance of at least $15,000.00.

No-fault insurance means that, regardless of who was to blame for the accident, each driver’s insurer pays their own medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

“First Party Benefits” is another term used to describe insurance coverages that are provided to you and your family regardless of fault in an accident. These benefits are frequently referred to either as “First Party Benefits” or “no-fault” benefits. PIP is a “no-fault” or “First Party” benefit. In the event of an accident, PIP pays for your medical expenses, regardless of fault. PIP coverage will pay for all reasonably related medical treatment required, up to one year or $15,000.00—whichever comes first. You can, of course, increase the amount of your PIP coverage by paying for more than the minimum of $15,000.00.

The minimum PIP coverage not only pays for your medical bills, but it will pay for other things like loss of income, household services (to replace things you can no longer do at home), and funeral benefits as well.

It is important that you read your policy and understand what it covers.

Oregon is Not a No-Fault State.

Even though you are required to carry no-fault insurance in Oregon, Oregon is not a no-fault state. What that means is that, unlike other states that are “no-fault” states, in Oregon, you retain your right to sue the at-fault driver to recover the cost of your medical expenses, lost income, and even pain and suffering. It’s important that you understand not only your responsibilities when it comes to car insurance, but the law and your options. That’s why, if you are in a car accident, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. At OlsenDaines, we handle car accidents and personal injury claims. We offer free consultations, and we can help.

Washington allows drivers to elect not to purchase PIP coverage. However, if you do not have PIP coverage as part of your policy and if you do not have health insurance, you will need to pay for medical treatment up-front and you will probably need to find a doctor or medical provider who will allow you to make payments for your health care for the time it takes to resolve your personal injury case.

We Handle Car Accidents.

Insurance coverage that protects you and your family is important. Filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover for your losses after a car accident is never easy. We are here to help. If you are in Portland, Eugene, Coos Bay, Medford, or any other city in Oregon, we have an office near you. We also have offices in Washington, and we provide free initial case consultations. To schedule an appointment, give us a call or send us an email.

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!

Are Property Owners Liable To Trespassers?

What happens if you are trespassing on someone else’s land and are injured? Do you have a case?

Everything depends on the facts of your particular case. That’s why it’s important to have competent counsel in your corner. We are experienced personal injury attorneys. We practice in Oregon and we provide free consultations to assist you.

In law, actions concerning injury to persons are called “personal injury” cases. Personal injury cases that occur because of the negligence of a land owner or premises occupier are commonly called “premises liability” cases.

Let’s take a closer look at Premises Liability and whether it protects trespassers.

What is Premises Liability?

First, premises liability is the general rule that says that all property owners have a duty to maintain their land to a certain standard. The rule exists to protect people who come onto another’s property. The law tries to protect people from unnecessary injury. It applies to private as well as public properties.

But does it apply to trespassers?

Let’s see.

Who Does The Law Protect?

To decide when and to what extent a property owner is responsible for injuries that occur to people who enter onto the owner’s property, the law divides people into different classes. They are:

  • Licensee —someone who is present for his own purposes, but enters with permission of the owner.
  • Social guest—is someone that is a guest, present with the owner’s permission.
  • Business Invitee— customers, or others who enter the property at the invitation, and for the benefit of the owner. This invitation usually implies that the property owner has taken reasonable steps to make the property safe.
  • Trespasser— someone who enters the premises without permission and has no right to be on the property.

Does Premises Liability Protect Trespassers?

Generally, no. A trespasser is someone who enters onto property without the right to be there. If you do not have permission to be on the property, you are trespassing.

Property owners do not have a legal duty to protect trespassers from injury by exercising reasonable care to either keep the premises in reasonably safe condition or to carry out activities so as not to endanger trespassers.

On the other hand, you can’t go setting booby traps or make other efforts to actively injure a trespasser. Further, if the property owner knows people are trespassing on his property, the owner could be held liable if a trespasser seriously injures himself or herself if the property owner created conditions that were dangerous but hid them.

Consult With an Attorney.

Personal injury cases are never cut-and-dried. If someone has been injured on your property, or if you or someone you love has been injured, you should consider talking with an attorney. We provide free consultations and we have offices throughout Oregon and in Washington. Visit our website or call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

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

Premises Liability on Public Property

Here in Oregon we love spending time outdoors: crabbing on the Oregon coast, hunting  and backpacking in the Oregon Wilderness, snowboarding, sea kayaking— we love it all. But what happens when there is an accident on public land? If you fall down a ravine while hiking, or break a leg snowboarding, do you have to bear the costs alone?

Premises Liability.

The general rule is that all property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition so that people entering on the property will not get hurt. The legal theory for this rule is called “premises liability.” Premises liability makes property owners responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their premises.

It applies to private as well as public properties.

When it comes to determining when, and to what extent, a property owner is responsible for injuries that occurred on his property, the law divides the people entering on the property into different classes:

  • Licensee —someone who is present for his own purposes, but enters with permission of the owner.
  • Social guest—is someone that is a guest, present with the owner’s permission.
  • Business Invitee—someone who enters the property at the invitation, and for the benefit of the owner— like a customer. This invitation usually implies that the owner has taken reasonable steps to make the property safe.
  • Trespasser— someone who enters the premises without permission and has no right to be on the property.

A property owner’s liability for injuries is determined by the laws and procedures of the state in which the injury occurred. Some states look only at the status of the injured person (social guest, licensee etc.) to decide liability. Other states look at the injured person’s status, his actions on the property, the condition of the property, and the owner’s actions. Knowing what factors the court in your state will apply is why it is important for you to consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.

Oregon’s Recreational Use Statute.

In 1995, Oregon enacted its recreational use statute, which encourages landowners to make their land available to the public for recreational purposes. Oregon’s recreational use statute provides that an owner of land who makes it available for recreational use is not liable for injuries occurring on the land to people making use of it for those specific recreational purposes. That immunity does not apply, however, if the landowner charged the injured party to use the land.

Public Lands.

When it comes to public lands, it may be difficult to hold the government responsible for injuries because most government agencies enjoy “government immunity.”

Consult Competent Counsel.

If injury has put the skids on your outdoor activities, we may be able to help. We are Oregon attorneys. We provide free consultations. We have offices throughout Oregon and in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

What Damages Cap Means For Your Lawsuit

When you are injured by the negligence of someone else, you could end up with a mountain of medical bills, significant pain, suffering, property damage, emotional distress, lost wages or more. Generally, you (the plaintiff) file a lawsuit against the party that injured you (the defendant) to make him pay —both literally and figuratively— for the damage he caused you. You are usually looking for money damages to compensate you for the harm you have suffered.

Economic and Non-economic Damages.

Money damages come in two flavors: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to money losses, like medical bills, car repair costs, lost wages, etc.

Noneconomic damages, however, refer to more intangible damages, like injury to reputation, mental distress, or humiliation. In the context of a personal injury action, “pain and suffering” generally refers to the noneconomic, mental or emotional damage you suffer as the result of an injury or accident.

Not surprisingly, the costs of a serious accident, injury, or medical malpractice case or an incident where a death ensues, can skyrocket into the millions pretty quickly.

So, can a seriously injured person recover the full amount of her or his claim?

No, not in Oregon

Caps on Damages.

Damages caps are laws that limit the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover. Each state has its own damages cap. To find out what the cap on non-economic damages are in the states of Oregon, consult with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys.

Damage caps are an issue of public policy.  I have personally seen how they can effect people with catastrophic and life changing injuries.

What a damages cap means to your lawsuit is that you may be limited in the amount of money you can recover for your pain and suffering or mental and emotional damages.

What do if you are facing a serious, catastrophic injury

Every case is different.  Developing a good legal strategy to deal with the caps and maximize your settlement is paramount. We offer free consultations, reasonable fees, and are committed to getting our clients the relief they need. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568 or contact us through our website.

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.

3 Types of Slip and Fall Cases

3 Types of Slip and Fall CasesWhen a person slips, falls, or otherwise injures themselves on someone else’s property, that person may have the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. This type of case will be built on what is known as “premises liability.” Premises liability refers to the legal duty a property owner has towards anyone who comes onto his or her property.

There are two primary elements used to determine fault in a premises liability claim:

  • Whether the property owner acted in a reasonable manner to prevent or address a dangerous condition
  • Whether the injured party was careless

In other words, for the injured party to have a strong claim, the property owner must have known about the dangerous condition and been careless in remedying or addressing it. Premise liability cases can be divided into three general categories by the location of the injury.

  1. Business liability for injuries

If you have suffered an injury on the premises of a business property due to property owner or employee negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Business property owners have a legal duty to do everything that’s reasonably within their ability to make their property safe. Property owners are responsible for putting in place adequate safeguards (again, within reason) to protect visitors from harm.

  1. Residential injuries that take place in a home or apartment

These types of claims will usually involve homeowners insurance. If you are injured at home, be sure to carefully go over your homeowner insurance policy to assess your coverage. Every year insurance companies reject numerous claims for injury claims that are not covered.

  1. Injuries that take place in other locations

These types of cases can be tricky as it can be hard to know how to proceed or who to make a personal injury claim against. Some premises that may fall under this category include:

  • Parking lots or garages
  • Sidewalks and walkways
  • Public or government property