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.

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!

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.

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.

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 .

Libel and Personal Injury

Great place, America. It’s the land of the free and home of the brave. We’ve got the right to bear arms, and to say anything we want to.

Well, almost.

While we do have a Constitutional right to free speech, others have personal rights too. And it’s not unusual for one person’s free speech rights to run up against another person’s right to protect his reputation. You take your speech too far, and you just might run into the laws of defamation.

Defamation: Libel and Slander.

“Defamation” is the broad term that covers the civil tort of making statements that injure another’s business or personal reputation. Written statements that damage another’s reputation are called “libel.” Spoken statements are called “slander.”  A person who has suffered (or thinks he has suffered) a defamatory statement can sue the person who made the statement.

To prove either type of defamation, a plaintiff must prove 4 elements:

  1. a false statement purporting to be fact
  2. publication or communication of that statement to a third person
  3. fault amounting to at least negligence, and
  4. damages orsome harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.

Libel and Social Media

The prevalence of access to the internet, and social media in particular, has made it easier than ever to make defamatory statements about people or their companies. For example, internet services like Yelp! are specifically designed to allow people to review and comment on other people’s businesses. With social media services (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) you can instantly publish comments and it’s not unusual for people to publish disparaging comments. Yet a false and damaging Yelp! review, tweet, YouTube video, or Facebook update can become a defamatory statement (libel) that is actionable by the person or company you are writing about. And that means that you could very well end up defending yourself in a defamation lawsuit.

Defenses and Privileges.

Not every statement that is injurious to a person’s or company’s reputation is actionable, however. State laws vary, but there are defenses and privileges that prevent a statement from being actionable as libel or slander. For example, “truth” is an absolute defense to all defamation claims. To prove defamation, a plaintiff must prove that the statement was false, and must show that the defendant was at fault. There are also absolute and qualified privileges that serve as defenses against libel or slander claims.

Know Your Rights!

If you are facing a defamation lawsuit or believe you have been defamed, contact us. We have offices in Tigard, Salem, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, 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.

When Can You Recover for Pain and Suffering?

 

If you have been in a car accident, the extent of the damage to your car is pretty obvious, but what about you? You not only have medical bills, but you are also suffering from the mental and emotional impact of the accident: you’re upset, you’re afraid to drive or be in a car again, or maybe you’re up all night because you can’t get it off your mind or the pain is keeping you awake. Is that something you can recover money for?

Yes, it is. Mental and emotional damage resulting from an accident or injury is compensable.

What is Pain and Suffering?

When someone files a civil lawsuit, they are generally looking for money to compensate them for the damage or injury done to them. Damages fall into two categories: (1) economic and (2) noneconomic.

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.

How Much Can You Recover for Your Pain and Suffering?

It’s not easy to evaluate a person’s pain and suffering. As you might imagine, everyone is different, so there is no bright line for calculating pain and suffering damages. Calculating pain and suffering damages involves a balancing of many factors.

State laws put limits on the type of noneconomic damages you can recover for and how much you can recover for them. For example, Oregon law limits recovery for pain and suffering to $500,000. Washington State, on the other hand, limits the amount you can receive from the parents of a child under 18 who is living at home and may have willfully injured you, and uses a wage times life expectancy calculation to limit other noneconomic damages.

When Can You Recover for Pain and Suffering?

Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering are generally part of any personal injury or car accident litigation. However, just because the ability to recover such damages exists, that does not mean that the insurance company will automatically pay for them. You will need to prove the extent of your damages —including your pain and suffering— with evidence and testimony. Some documents you may need to provide are:

  • Prescription receipts.
  • Over-the-counter medication receipts.
  • Medical bills, if any, for therapy, ambulance costs, x-rays, emergency room visits,
  • Proof of lost wages or time off from school.
  • A log of all medical treatment, pain, and missed activities.
  • Photos of your injuries.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney!

We can take the pain out of personal injury recovery. 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.