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

Don’t Forget to Get a Police Report

Car accidents happen every day. But somehow, you are never expecting to be in one.

If you are involved in a car accident, it can leave you not only injured, but emotionally and mentally shattered as well. That’s why it’s important to know how to handle a car accident long before one happens.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to prepare for the unexpected.

Be Prepared.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for an accident is to have a first aid kit in your car and carry safety cones and lights in your trunk.

Another is to make sure your phone is fully charged at all times.

Being organized also helps. Keep important papers, like your insurance card, where you can easily get to them. And keep a pad and pen available that you can use to take down names of witnesses and other information in the event of an accident.  Take pictures of the other driver’s car, license plate, and any documents he or she gives you at the scene.

Get Medical Attention.

Your first point of concern after a car accident is your well-being and that of your passengers. If you or one of your passengers is injured, your immediate concern is to get medical attention. Call 911 or ask someone else to. If you are seriously injured, don’t move until the medics arrive.

Get a Police Report.

Whether the accident is major or just a fender-bender, it is important to get a police report. After an accident, call the police. When the police arrive, ask that a police report be filled out, and be sure to get the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond.

It is very important to remember to get a police report. If you need to bring a personal injury action, having the police report can be critical to your case.

Exchange Information.

Assuming you are not seriously injured, be sure to exchange information with the other driver. Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, get their names numbers and addresses also.

A few cautions here: don’t argue with the other driver, don’t admit fault, and don’t talk too much.

Why?

Because you just might be admitting legal liability. Until an accident is fully investigated, you really don’t know whose fault it is. So stay calm and keep quiet.

Take Photos.

Again, assuming you are not injured (and assuming you moved to a safe spot), if possible, take pictures of the scene and the damage to your car. Pictures can help your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car and can serve as evidence if you have to bring a lawsuit.

Finally…

Consider Hiring An Attorney.

When you are injured in a car accident, find out whether you should file a lawsuit. We provide free consultations. 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. We offer free consultations and we can help you. To set up an appointment, call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

What is a Subrogation Action?

 

If you are in a car accident, “subrogation” is a term you need to become familiar with.

Why?

Because a subrogation action by your insurance company can impact your claim Subrogation is not a term that many people hear about. That’s because it is generally a matter that is between insurance companies.

So let’s see what it is and why it’s important.

What is Subrogation?

Subrogation is one of the ways in which car insurance companies recover money they have paid out in claims to drivers that they have insured.

Subrogation is the act of one party claiming legal rights of another that it has reimbursed for losses. Subrogation usually occurs in personal injury or casualty cases where one insurance company pays its insured damages and then brings its own claim against other parties or their insurance companies who caused or contributed to the loss, for reimbursement.

To make this clearer, let’s say you are in a car accident. Generally, you will submit a claim to your insurance company for the damages you incurred (medical bills, damage to your car) related to that accident. Your insurance company will conduct an investigation of the accident, and based on its conclusions, will reimburse you some amount for your damages. Let’s say that your insurance company determines that that accident was entirely the fault of the other driver, so it pays all of your expenses. Your insurance company will then seek reimbursement for what it paid to you from the other driver’s carrier. Your insurer is “subrogated” to the rights of your policy and can “step into your shoes,” which means that your insurance company can recover what it paid to you, its insured, from the other insurance carrier.

Why is Subrogation Important to You?

You may be wondering why subrogation is important to the consumer if it’s just a matter of reimbursement that occurs between insurance companies. There are two main reasons why understanding how subrogation works is important:

  1. If your insurance company decides to pursue subrogation to recover its costs, they are required to try to recover the costs of your deductible as part of their subrogation claim. If they recover the costs of your deductible, they are required to refund that money to you.
  2. If your insurance company is not able to recover the money it paid directly from the other company, it may have a lien on your settlement. There may be issues to attack the validity of the lien. If you find yourself in this situation, you should have legal counsel assisting you in the matter.
  3. While it is rare, a subrogation claims might possibly limit your ability to make agreements with third parties regarding liability. Your insurance policy will very likely require you to cooperate with any subrogation attempts they make. This means that you may not be allowed to sign waivers that release the other driver from responsibility.

To fully understand subrogation and how it impacts you, you should discuss it with a personal injury attorney.

Talk to an Attorney.

If you have been in an accident, consult a personal injury attorney about your rights. 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 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 .

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.