General Accident Law Basic Information

What is Negligence or Ordinary Negligence ?

Ordinary negligence is when a person does something or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person under similar circumstances would act in a manner to protect others from harm. The “reasonable person” standard requires people to act as a reasonably careful person would under similar circumstances. The law imposes a duty of reasonable care whereby those harmed by a person that breaches this duty of care may recover damages.

What is Gross Negligence ?

Gross negligence is the extreme indifference for the safety of others. Gross negligence is extreme conduct when compared with ordinary negligence, which is a mere failure to exercise reasonable care. Gross negligence is usually both a conscious and also a voluntary disregard of the need to use reasonable care to protect others against harm.


What is Reckless Conduct ?

Reckless conduct is any act in which a person knew or should have known that such act could probably and potentially cause harm. Reckless conduct typically demonstrates a disregard for the consequences of an act in which a risk of harm was serious and unreasonable. It is oftentimes said that such conduct is 'willful' and 'wanton'. An individual can be charged criminally with either a felony or a misdemeanor for a reckless act. The compensatory damages of a civil lawsuit for a reckless act can include medical bills, lost wages, and payment for permanent injuries. Many states also allow for punitive damages for 'pain and suffering' when reckless conduct demonstrates a blatant disregard for the safety of another person.


The Basics of Slip and Fall Accident Lawsuits

A personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim requires the identification of the parties responsible for the injury or injuries. In order to hold another party responsible for injuries suffered in a slip and fall accident, an injured person must typically prove that there is a failure to identify or remedy a hazardous condition in which there was an obligation to protect others from harm.

Proving A Slip and Fall

The importance of early preservation of evidence after a slip and fall is essential to proving liability after an accident. It is important to prove that the condition that caused the accident is one which the party knew or should have known would likely cause an accident and the party could have acted to eliminate the hazard. Photographs, video, witness testimony, incident reports and medical reports all are important pieces of evidence to help establish liability.

The Value of a Slip and Fall Accident Claim

The value of a slip and fall accident claim can be difficult to calculate. Medical bills and lost wages are easy to calculate based on records but less objective damages such as "pain and suffering" are much harder to calculate. The seriousness of the injuries and the duty of care owed to the injured party are important factors to asses the value of a claim. The effect on the ability of the injured to earn a living or on their overall quality of life are also factors that should be taken into consideration. Other factors that effect the value of a claim include the location of the accident, assets of the responsible parties and the amount of any insurance coverage.

 

Do I Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident ?

There is no simple answer as to when a person should or not hire a lawyer after a car accident. A serious bodily injury to a person rather than mere property damages is reason to speak with a lawyer. Most property damage claims that stem from a car accident can be settled though an insurance claim. At present, about a dozen states (Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania ,Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah)and Puerto Rico have no-fault auto insurance laws that assist in the payment of property damages, medical bills, lost earnings and bodily harm injuries. The purpose of no-fault insurance is to reduce the number of frivolous motor vehicle lawsuits. It involves a 'repayment system' which guarantees every injured victim of a motor vehicle accident to be promptly compensated without having to determine who was at fault. No fault does not compensate a victim for non-economic loss such as pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium. Speaking to a lawyer after an accident can help to determine the potential value of a claim.

When an automobile accident claim is simple and clear cut there is probably no need to hire a lawyer. Most automobile accidents are settled through insurance companies in which a lawsuit is unnecessary because the fault of the driver can easily be determined or the injuries are insignificant and for a low dollar amount of medical expenses. In circumstances when an automobile accident claim is more complicated it may be worthwhile to speak with an attorney. It is important to consult with an attorney when a person is seriously injured or burdened with very significant medical bills. There are other factors that may influence a person decision to speak with an attorney after a car accident such as when there are extenuating circumstances related to the accident or when an insurance settlement offer is too low.

 

Negotiating An Insurance Settlement After A Car Accident

The value of an insurance settlement claim after a car accident will depend on a multitude of factors. A person may seek reimbursement for property damages, medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress and pain and suffering. The insurance claim will in part be determined by the validity of the claim based on the fault of the driver and also the severity of the harm. Other factors that may influence the value of an insurance settlement include the location and extent of the coverage.

A person is usually not legally required to participate in an independent medical examination (IME) provided by the car insurance settlement agent against their wishes. An independent medical examination occurs when a licensed healthcare professional conducts an examination of an individual usually to assist in answering a legal or administrative question of fact. An independent medical examination may be requested when there is uncertainty about the cause or nature of a claimed injury, or the functional status and/or when the rehabilitation potential of the claimant is unknown. The primary responsibility of the independent medical examination is to the entity that is paying for the examination, typically the insurance company. Consequently, the objectivity of the independent medical examiner when conducting the examination may be called into question. Oftentimes an insurance settlement agent can simply obtain the physician records from treatment by a personal physician so it is unnecessary for a person to participate against their wishes.

An independent medical examination for a personal injury claim that has reached the litigation stage, as opposed to a mere insurance settlement claim, requires mandatory participation at the request of the opposing party. According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and also in every state rules of civil procedure, there is a mandatory obligation in a personal injury lawsuit for an individual to participate in at least one requested independent medical examination by a specialized physician for each claimed injury type. The physician is not examining the person for the purpose of treatment but for assessing the validity of the underlying claim. The physician will be assessing the nature and scope of the injuries so it is important for the individual to precisely answer questions by making sure there is an understanding of each question in the first place. The individual should be honest, truthful and cooperative but also take the time to answer all questions carefully especially when unclear or confused.


Should I Hire A Construction Accident Attorney ?

A small project by an individual homeowner or a large project at a major construction site may result in an injury because construction sites are oftentimes some of the most dangerous working conditions with a significant risk of injury. Safety regulations under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 have been adopted in all states to varying degrees of strictness. Businesses with less than 10 employees are usually exempt from OSHA safety reporting guidelines and OSHA programmed inspections.

An employee that is injured at the workplace is entitled to workers compensation for their injuries regardless of fault. An individual does not need to prove fault in order to receive compensation. An individual is entitled to workers compensation even in instances where self-negligence led to the injuries. As a trade-off from receiving workers compensation, most employees are barred from litigation against their employer or employees for workplace accidents unless there is a state exception for instances in when an employer intentionally hurts an employee. In some states, an employer that ignores unsafe working conditions may also be held responsible for extra penalties that increase the size of a workers compensation claim due to misconduct that is considered serious and willful. Misconduct that is serious and willful need only be conduct done with an absolute reckless disregard for the safety of an employee. State laws can vary but misconduct is generally assessed in those instances in which acts or a failure to act could reasonably be foreseen to result in serious injury.

A construction accident lawyer can help an individual receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and future medical needs and in some instance "pain and suffering" in those instances when a personal injury lawsuit is not barred by worker compensation laws. An individual should bring to an attorney their employment contract, pictures of the scene of the accident, pictures of the injuries sustained from the accident, medical records, records of days missed from work due to the accident, witness reports, and contact information of witnesses and supervisors on the job site. A construction accident lawyer will assess responsibility for the accident by assessing the degree of control over the premises where the accident happened and the status of the injured person. A construction lawyer will also assess issues of liability and indemnification based on the relationship between contractors and sub-contractors. An experienced construction accident attorney further may seek to recover damages from responsible parties who are not their employer, based upon theories of negligence and product liability. An individual should speak with a construction attorney before settling with an insurance agent or an employer.

Wrongful Death

The negligence or misconduct that causes the death of another person may be remedied in a lawsuit by surviving family members and/or loved ones under a claim of "wrongful death." Typically, the family member is a close family members such as a spouse, a child of the deceased or a parent of the deceased. In general, a wrongful death is brought by the personal representative of the decedents estate. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivors' loss, based on lost anticipated earnings of the deceased, loss of financial benefits, lost companionship, loss of consortium, loss of inheritance, pain and suffering, and expenses that are more immediate such as medical or funerary expenses. All states have civil "wrongful death" statutes that detail the procedures for bringing a wrongful death action. Pecuniary or financial injury is a significant factor to measure damages in a wrongful death action.