Many people have the impression that personal injury cases are dramatic exchanges in a courtroom between lawyers that will sway the jury and resolve into a spectacular ending. As in most things shaped by television, the reality of personal injury cases is very different.
For one thing, most personal injury cases are fought on paper rather than in court. More than 90% of all personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial because during the pretrial, these are settled between the lawyers with the concurrence of their clients. Civil lawsuits are in general a lot like criminal cases to prepare for in that it takes time to investigate and get together the facts, which are then shared to the other side in what is called discovery.
On the basis of what may be revealed during discovery, the lawyers then begin to devise a plan of attack as well as grounds for negotiations. Instead of bursts of elocution, the pretrial negotiations are often a pedantic exchange of painstakingly prepared documents over an extended period as depositions and facts are presented. As the defense considers the strength of the plaintiff’s case, the plaintiff could be getting impatient or desperate, and may push for a settlement, or the defense, seeing a strong case, may alternatively do the same.
In either case, the terms of the final settlement, if any, will be a balance between what the plaintiff would have been reasonably awarded if the case is won in court and the costs of waiting for the case to come to court. In more than 90% of the cases, the parties come to an agreement, the plaintiff accepts a settlement, and the trial never happens.
It is a reality that personal injury cases, even those that are settled as early as feasible, take at least 6 months from the time of filing to prepare, and most claimants are often struggling financially with hospital and medical bills, lost income, and other adverse consequences of the triggering incident. It is the conscientious and experienced personal injury lawyer who will ensure that despite the pressure to settle as quickly as possible the rights of the claimant are protected, and that just compensation will still be forthcoming even without a trial.Read More
If you have been charged with a crime which proceeds to trial, you may be wondering what is in store for you. Like anything else legal in the US, each state has a different set of rules for court procedures, and federal court procedure is conducted differently from that in the state level. But in general, there are four stages in criminal court proceedings: arraignment, trial, verdict, and sentencing.
Arraignment is when you are brought before the judge who will read the charges lodged against you for the court records, and you are asked to state whether you are guilty or not guilty. This is called entering a plea. At this point, a criminal defense lawyer is not necessary, although it would be advisable as the judge may clarify some points about the charges which may impact on the legality of the arrest. It is entirely possible that you may be released at this point if the judge does not believe there is sufficient evidence or probable cause to prosecute the case. It is also at this time that bail may be set.
The trial itself follows if no deal is struck with the prosecution or the case is not dismissed. Before the actual trial, members of the jury will be selected by the judge and the lawyers of both sides. Once that is done, the trial date may be fixed.
At the trial, the prosecutor will present the case against you, call witnesses and present evidence. The defense may question each witness and challenge the admissibility of evidence, and may object to the way the prosecution presents its case. The prosecution may do the same when the defense takes a turn at presenting the case. When both sides have rested their case, each will give a closing statement, typically a recap of what had been presented and their interpretations. The jury will then retire to a separate room to deliberate after receiving instructions from the judge.
The verdict is the result of jury deliberation, in which they may find for (not guilty) or against (guilty) you as the defendant. There may be more than one charge against you, in which case the jury will deliver a verdict for each of the charges. Once the verdict has been read out and you are found guilty, the judge will schedule a sentencing hearing, at which time the judge will decide on the appropriate punishment under the law.
There have been times when doctors, despite the technological advancements at their disposal, can only speculate a patient’s real condition, especially if the disease has been caused by a virus that has never been identified before. But to be able to subject a patient to a series of tests is only possible if the patient consents, which will require the patient’s complete trust on his/her doctor. The doctor, on the other hand, should be honest enough towards the patient, who deserves to know everything regarding his/her condition. Accurate information, anyway, is part of the quality care doctors and all other health care providers owe their patients.
Oftentimes, misdiagnosis or even the failure to simply determine what is really wrong with the patient can be traced from the way some medical experts handle and interact with patients. Based on a study, one of the most common causes of misdiagnosis is physician bias. This happens when a doctor starts to fix his or her attention on just one patient problem or issue. Many doctors who have come to realize this mistake blame it on the very limited 15-minute patient visit – a very short period of interaction between doctors and patients. Most often too, doctors who have been forced by economic circumstances to treat as many patients as they can within the day, unconsciously apply what is called the “18-second rule,” where they cut patients short while they describe the symptoms to their ailment.
Eventually, the doctor will have to make a correct a finding to be able to make an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s real condition. A misdiagnosis can result to unfavorable things that may even endanger the patient’s life. In the past, a misdiagnosis has resulted to surgeries which should not have been performed, subjecting the patient to wrong laboratory tests, prescribing the wrong medicine, recommending the wrong medical treatment, and so forth.
Injuries or further worsening of health condition suffered by patients is often due to the carelessness or negligence of another; and as such, it is considered a personal injury. On its website, the Steinberg Law Firm strongly emphasizes the rights of personal injury victims, especially their legal right to be compensated by the liable person/party as the harm done will certainly necessitate medical treatment and may even cause the victim to miss work and, so, lose the ability to earn wages.
Understanding the complexities of the law, however, may serve as a burden to the victim, who is already weighed down by the injury he/she is suddenly made to suffer from. Thus, having professional legal assistance would really be a wise decision, for this can enable the victim to claim what the law allows him/her to have.Read More
Employees all across America, whether citizens or foreigners hired for permanent employment, are covered and protected by federal and state laws against any form of discrimination, most especially, on wages and overtime pay. And, based on the principle, “A laborer is worth his wage,” all employers are, therefore, morally and legally obliged to pay their employees for every minute spent on work.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (which was passed into law in 1938) and the Portal-to-Portal Act are two federal statutes that give directives, the first, on the national minimum wage, and the second, on overtime pay. FLSA, also known as the Wages and Hours Bill, covers all employees, whether full-time or part-time, and determines the minimum wage and rate of overtime pay.
An article on the website of Melton & Kumler, LLP, an employment law firm based in Austin, likewise explains the task of the FLSA, including implementing changes concerning employee wage, such as the gradual change that employers should make in the minimum pay, from $5.85/hour in July 2007 to $7.25/hour in July 2009.
Overtime pay, or payment for work rendered by employees in excess of their maximum daily or weekly work shift, is computed separately and given a higher value than regular time pay. Overtime pay is hard-earned money. Many American employees go through the sacrifice of giving up a part of their time for rest or family time to be able to take home a bit higher pay than the usual. For parents who need to send their kid/s to school or who need to pay child support, overtime pay is definitely very important as this can enable or help them accomplish a whole lot of other things for their kid/s.
To ensure that employees get the pay they deserve for every minute spent in relation to work, the Portal-to-Portal Act was made into law (in 1947). This law states that whatever work is performed for the benefit of the employer, regardless of place and time, should be considered as work that deserves compensation.
It is a fact that many employers still resort to tactics that can enable them to keep wages even below the minimum pay; some even deny employees the right to render overtime work, despite employees’ eligibility. Being discriminated against wage and overtime pay, but choosing to remain silent about it will only make the unjust practice continue and affect a lot more people. Thus, employees should know that protection against employer retaliation for reporting unjust employment practices is also provided by the law.
The law is an employee’s guarantee to a safe and just workplace. Any employee who opts to look the other way, despite knowledge of an unlawful employment practice, only makes such employee as guilty as the one committing the unjust act. If you believe you have been a victim of this, contact a retaliation lawyer today.Read More
Between 2001 and 2010, two names always surfaced when it concerned prescribing oral contraceptives to women in the US and in many other parts of the globe: Yasmin and Yaz. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, a German company and one of the 10 top pharmaceutical companies worldwide, introduced Yasmin in 2001 and Yaz, in 2006.
Yasmin, particularly, come in packs that contain 7 palliative or inactive pills and 21 active pills (the palliative pills are simply intended to lessen annoying symptoms before or during one’s menstrual cycle. Besides containing ethinyl estradiol, the hormone that increases the density of bone minerals and suppresses ovulation, Yasmin also has drospirenone, an artificial progesterone, which treats premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and temperate acne, more effectively.
Yasmin is said to effectively prevent pregnancy of females aged 14 and up. The drug is not recommended to everyone, however, specifically women who are nursing, as the drug may harm the child, those suffering from medical disorders and those who are not certain if they are pregnant.
In 2007 (a year after Yaz was made available for prescription) until 2013, more than 600 cases of adverse-effects were linked to the use of either Yasmin or Yaz. But what aggravated the circumstances surrounding the drugs was the discovery of the death of 23 Canadian women, with ages ranging from 14 – 26, due to the use of either of the drugs.
Yasmin, itself, has been linked to the development of gallbladder injuries, and blood clots, such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a vein that is located deep inside the body) and pulmonary embolism (blood clot that blocks of the pulmonary artery), in women who take it. Thus, by the mid of 2013, more than 10,000 lawsuits had been filed against Yasmin’s manufacturer, and about $1.4 billion had been paid in settlement with more than 6,000 claimants.
There are other adverse effects linked to the use of Yasmin, including:
On its website, the law firm Williams Kherkher encourages women to exercise their right to inquire from their doctors the safety and effectivity of any birth control medication that is prescribed to them. This is to ensure their protection against any serious side-effects to which so many oral contraceptives have been linked already.Read More
Delivering tons of important cargo that keep businesses operational and the US economy subsistent (well, despite the few setbacks in the past), is one of the major roles played by 18-wheelers all across the nation. Big rigs accomplish a unique task which no other type of vehicle can. Yet, even with the central role 18-wheelers play in the US economy, the Jacksonville-based Law Offices of Donald D. Guthrie, still caution other motorists against the significant safety risks posed by these vehicles. An 18-wheeler accident can have a devastating effect on the life of any victim – an effect that can change the life of the victim, and his/her family, forever.
It is the responsibility of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an arm of the US Department of Transportation, to ensure the compliance of the commercial trucking industry with federal safety standards. Thus, as part of its program to guarantee safety in the motor carrier transport system, FMCSA has embarked on a stricter campaign in implementing federal rules that directly affect everyone in the trucking industry chain – that means truck drivers, employers and manufacturers of truck parts.
With regard to licensing, for instance, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 mandates that all applicants for a commercial driver’s license should possess the skills required to operate a commercial vehicle; they must also pass the tests prepared by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), which is administered by the state or any accredited testing facility, before being issued a license. The Safety Act also orders the removal of unqualified and unsafe drivers from the highway.
Besides hiring only qualified drivers, trucking companies, on their part, should also apply the FMCSA-implemented maximum hours of service (HOS) for all their drivers. The FMCSA states that drivers can drive only up to 11 hours maximum, which is part of their 14-hour duty, followed by an off-duty period of 10 consecutive hours. This stipulation is to make sure that drivers never suffer fatigue or sleepiness, one of the major causes of so many truck accidents in the past.
The government also has its eyes on manufacturers of trucks and truck parts, such as tires and brakes, both of which contribute a lot to a truck’s performance, especially during emergency cases. One manufacturer has even gone beyond government stipulations, taking the initiative of installing extra safety features in its trucks, some of which include the Cornering Lights, which provides drivers with an enhanced visibility of the sides of the truck, the Stretch Brake, for maximum steering capability, especially when driving downhill, and the Auto Brake, which stops the vehicle automatically to avoid, or lessen the impact, of rear-end collision.Read More
Divorce is always a painful process, whether it happens to a civilian couple or with one spouse in military service. And it must have been a cause of concern to the Defense Department when the rate of divorce, involving military personnel, increased particularly after October 2001, when combat in Iraq and Afghanistan began.
The war resulted to the deployment of more than 2 million American service men and women to the two countries, to search for the brains behind the 9/11 attack. Due to the long deployment, however, the most common effect was a decision and move by civilian spouses to divorce their military partners.
According to the Defense Department, the rate of divorce among military couples also increased steadily from 2001 to 2011 – the beginning and the duration of the Afghan operations. Divorce was higher between couples who were childless and who got married before 2001. Studies sponsored by the Department of Defense somehow manifested that civilian spouses who were married to service men/women after 2001 were more prepared to accept the consequences of being married to a military personnel, and that includes long deployments when called to active duty, as well the risk of being a casualty of war.
Even if one of the spouses in a divorce case is a military personnel, the divorce process will still have to be governed (largely) by state laws and procedures. There are some states, though, that consider certain military regulations and federal statutes in a divorce process, such as the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. The Act is about division of military retired pay, medical assistance and other benefits.
According to an article in the website of Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, a family law firm based in Oceanside, in a divorce process involving military personnel, there are certain conditions and laws that directly affect a service man/woman, his/her spouse and their child/children, if there are any. It is important, therefore, that divorcing spouses know and understand the divorce laws of the state where they file their application for divorce.
Often, the intricacies presented by the law itself, can be an extra burden for the affected spouses, who may already be suffering from the emotional weight and other effects of divorce. Coupled with all other concerns, such as child custody, child support, division of properties and assets, and others, the whole process can be an overwhelming experience. Thus, hiring the services of a great family lawyer, who is familiar with both civil and military laws governing divorce, would be a big help in settling all issues more effectively and in accordance to what the law allows and stipulates.Read More
The result of the court proceedings during the latter part of February 2014, on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill claim appeal, could only be disturbing for the London-based oil firm British Petroleum (BP). This is because New Orleans’ 5th Circuit Court of Appeals supported, despite divisive votes, the December 2013 ruling made by a U.S. District, which authorized payments of business economic loss claims and lifted any injunction that prevented such payments.
These economic losses are supposed to have resulted from the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which claimed the lives of 11 workers and caused as much as 210,000,000 gallons or 4.9 million barrels of oil gushing from the 35,050 ft. deep seabed well.
This BP oil spill is said to be the biggest and worst marine oil spill in the world, as well as the largest ecological disaster in the US. Back in 2010, BP prepared to meet the consequences of the accident, including payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement with all those who have been affected, and will be affected, by the oil spill.
The recent court injunction, however, is making BP cry foul over the method applied by the Claims Administrator who, until now, continues to receive more claims that ask for still greater amounts. Understandably for BP, which is moving to retrace the settlement agreement it made, since it feels that the accounting methodology for determining losses has become too slack and, worse, those who are filing for claims speak of losses that do not even have sufficient proof of link to the spill. Despite these, the court has ruled that payments should be made.
BP intends to push further its appeal, which would save it from paying claims based on fictitious losses or losses that the oil spill has not caused at all. To date, the giant oil firm has already paid individuals and businesses about $9.2 billion, almost $2 billion more than its original projection. BP is afraid, however, that with the recent turn of events and court decisions, the amount can still grow higher.Read More