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!

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

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.

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.

Why You Should Know About Social Host Liability

 

It’s the morning after, and you’ve got…a horrible…

Lawsuit.

Social Host Laws.

Social host liability laws are laws that impose liability on social hosts for alcohol-related injuries that occur to minors, and in some states, to anyone who was allowed to drink to excess and who was injured or killed, or caused another’s injury or death. Social hosts are generally private individuals who serve alcohol in non-commercial settings.

Social host laws make a host liable for property damage related to these kinds of accidents. In most states, to be held liable, the social host must be aware that his guest was intoxicated and should not have been served more alcohol. These laws don’t just apply to alcohol – they can also include other intoxicating substances.

While many social host laws are aimed at reducing alcohol-related deaths and injuries suffered by or caused by minors, some states, like Oregon, have social host laws that apply to guests of all ages.

What Social Host Laws Mean to You.

Liability for personal injury cases generally encompasses economic and non-economic damages. 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.

While social host laws are limited to economic damages only, such money damages can still be significant. When you consider that Oregon  have social host laws that impose a duty of care of a party host to any guest, and then consider that most accidents caused by intoxicated adult guests are drunk driving incidents, the serious consequences of one’s duty becomes obvious.

Talk to a Lawyer!

It’s important that you know your legal duties as well as your rights. If you think you may be liable under the social host laws, or believe someone else is, talk to us. We are experienced attorneys with offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Albany, Eugene 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.