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3 Ways Truck Crashes Can Differ From Car Crashes

Any motor vehicle accident can lead to property damage or injury, but are there many potnetial ways in which a truck crash can differ from an "ordinary" car crash. From special insurance coverage to commercial truck laws, there are actually several factors that can make truck accidents unique. Here are three common differences between commercial truck accidents and standard car accidents: Commercial truck laws. A variety of laws impose special rules and restrictions on commercial truck drivers and trucking companies. When you're involved in a truck accident, those special commercial truck laws may come into play, such as how many hours the driver was behind the wheel, whether the driver was on a cell phone, whether the truck was properly maintained, and whether the truck was hauling hazardous material. Vicarious liability. Unlike ordinary car accidents involving individual drivers like yourself, truck accidents present a host of potential vicarious liability issues, including whether the truck driver was an employee or a contractor, whether the driver was acting in the scope of his or her employment during the accident, and whether the driver was engaging in a detour or frolic. More parties (and more lawyers) involved. When you're involved in a "regular" car accident, your lawsuit is typically limited to the other driver and his or her insurance company. But in truck accidents, you may have vicarious liability issues on the table, so you're potentially looking at many more parties involved in the case than an ordinary car accident case. Even if you can't find fault with the driver, there might be others who could be held liable, such as the truck company (for example, for negligent hiring, training, or retention) or a truck parts manufacturer (for a defective part that caused the accident). Because of these various parties, there could be many attorneys involved, representing the trucking company, the company's driver, equipment manufacturers, and others. These are just a few common ways that truck crashes can differ from car crashes. If you're ready to meet with an attorney who knows the ins and outs of truck accident cases, then head over to FindLaw's Truck Accident Lawyer Directory to connect with one today. Related Resources: Five Things to Research Before Meeting a Truck Accident Attorney (FindLaw) Proving Fault in a Truck Accident Checklist (FindLaw) Truck Accident Damages: How Much Can You Collect? (FindLaw's Injured) Truck Accident Injuries Up 18%: NHTSA Report (FindLaw's Injured)
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Iraq Vet to Get $4.5M for Occupy Oakland Shooting

An Iraq vet whose skull was fractured by a projectile shot by police during an Occupy Oakland protest has agreed to receive $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit with the city of Oakland. During the protest, 26-year-old Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a beanbag round fired by a police officer standing less than 30 feet away from him, The Associated Press reports. The large settlement amount stems from a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of Olsen's injuries and the negligent training of the officers. Why Not Go to Trial? Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said that a jury might have awarded Olsen more money if the case had gone to trial. So why didn't Olsen and his attorney go to trial? People opt to settle cases before trial for a variety of reasons. In this case, it seems a settlement was more preferable because the litigation was taking a toll on Olsen. As he said, "It's been very a very difficult two and a half years for me, everything from being in the hospital, to relearning how to talk to dealing with a lawsuit, that's been a lot of stress." Trials are tough on people. The litigation process can be long and exhausting. Even though going to trial might have secured Olsen a larger damages award, he and his attorney were likely keen on reaching a quicker resolution so that he could move on and focus on his health. Why $4.5M Settlement? Because of the beanbag shooting, Olsen suffered permanent brain injuries and has not been able to return to his career as a computer systems administrator. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, the AP reports. The damages stemming from Olsen's injuries played a central role in the large settlement award. They included economic damages -- such as lost wages and past, present, and future medical costs -- as well as noneconomic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering. Another major factor in the settlement was the police officers' use of excessive force. An independent study in June 2012 reported that police were ill-equipped to handle the Occupy Oakland protest because of inadequate staffing as well as poor planning and training, according to The AP. The tragic injury will affect Olsen for the rest of his life, but the $4.5 million award is designed to help ease the financial burden of his arduous road to recovery. Related Resources: Oakland to pay Iraq War vet $4.5 million for Occupy shooting (Oakland Tribune) Can Occupy Oakland Vet Sue Police for Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) 2 Occupy Protestors File Excessive Force Suit (FindLaw's Injured) UC Davis Pepper Spray Suit Settled for $1M (FindLaw's Injured)
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Truck Accident Damages: How Much Can You Collect?

People often wonder how much they can get in truck accident damages. Every case is different, so there is no "one size fits all" approach to calculating damages in truck accident cases. To determine your specific damages award, courts will examine a variety of factors. Here are seven factors that can potentially shape the amount you can collect in a truck accident case: Medical bills. Arguably the most important of award considerations, a court will take into account bills and expenses for medical services such as doctors, hospital stays, emergency room treatment, ambulance fees, physical therapy, accessories (such as crutches), and in-home services. A plaintiff must show that the expenses resulted from his or her truck accident injury. Property damage. A court may factor in the extent of damage caused to your car and other property. Keep in mind that you will often need photographs or other types of evidence to prove of the extent of damage to your vehicle. Lost wages. These damages represent the amount of money a plaintiff would have earned from the time of the injury to the date of settlement or judgment. The court might also consider lost future earning capacity from the injury, depending on age, occupation, and other factors. Pain and suffering. In some cases, a court will award damages for past, present, and future physical pain in connection with an accident or injury. To place a monetary value on pain and suffering, a court considers a variety of factors. Emotional distress. A court might consider emotional distress associated with a truck accident or injury, depending on many factors, including intensity, duration, related bodily harm, and underlying cause. Punitive damages. In particularly egregious cases, you may also be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish a malicious defendant. Comparative/contributory negligence laws. The degree of your own fault can impact how much you collect in truck accident damages. Many states' comparative and contributory negligence laws can reduce or even bar damage awards depending on how much you are at fault. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine how much your specific case is worth under your local laws, after performing a careful analysis of the case. Related Resources: Five Things to Research Before Meeting a Truck Accident Attorney (FindLaw) Truck Accident Injuries Up 18%: NHTSA Report (FindLaw's Injured) Dump Truck Hits, Kills Mom Putting Kid in Van (FindLaw's Injured) Proving Fault in a Truck Accident: A Legal Checklist (FindLaw)
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NYC Inmate ‘Baked to Death’ in Hot Jail Cell: Report

A New York jail inmate was found dead in his cell in February, with officials citing malfunctioning equipment as to why he was "basically baked to death." An autopsy performed on Jerome Murdough, 56, was inconclusive but initial findings indicated to officials that the mentally ill ex-Marine died of extreme dehydration or heat stroke, officials told The Associated Press. Murdough was in a cell that reportedly was overheated to at least 100 degrees. What recourse do prisoners have for overheated cells? Trespass Arrest Lands Man in Jail Murdough's story is a rather sad one. The former Marine was homeless, and taking shelter in a Harlem stairwell, when police arrested him for trespassing. According to the AP, a week later, Murdough was found dead in his Rikers Island cell. It's common in many cities for homeless persons to end up in jail for trespassing (absent creative sentencing), and it's also not uncommon for these inmates to have mental illness. Murdough's mother Alma told the AP her son suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. New York City has been caught trying to unlawfully isolate the mentally ill before, but it appears that in Murdough's case it was fatal. Mental illness advocates point to him not being supervised closely enough in "a special observation unit for inmates with mental illnesses," which may have lead to his death, the AP reports. According to city officials, Murdough was located in Rikers Island's "mental-observation unit" and was supposed to be checked every 15 minutes as part of "suicide watch." Potential Liability for Extreme Heat Lawsuits alleging abysmal conditions behind bars are fairly common. Inmates and prisoners often face issues such as cockroach infestations, questionable medical care, and even lethal heat. In Southern states like Louisiana and Texas, prison facilities can put inmates at lethal risk of heat stroke -- which may qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Under the Eighth Amendment, even convicts who are sentenced to death should not be slowly baked to death in their cells. According to the AP, the family "wants an explanation" for Murdough's death, and that desire may eventually bring them to court. Related Resources: Rikers Island Struggles With a Surge in Violence and Mental Illness (The New York Times) Vegas Cellmate Killing Leads to $10M Lawsuit (FindLaw's Injured) HS Football Deaths in GA, SC, TX Blamed on Heat, Practice (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty) Inmate Can't Sue for Prison for Injury (FindLaw's Injured)
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‘Affluenza’ Teen’s Family Settles With Some Victims

The family of the "affluenza" teen sentenced to probation after a fatal DUI crash has decided to settle lawsuits brought by some of the victims. Ethan Couch's family has agreed to settle with the families of Breanna Mitchell and Hollie and Shelby Boyles -- all three allegedly killed by Couch, then 16, in June, the Dallas Morning News reports. Youth pastor Brian Jennings was also killed in the crash, but a settlement with his family has not yet been reached. 'Affluenza' Family Pays Up Although their deaths are tragedies, in a small way, Couch's "affluenza" is a boon. Wrongful death suits are almost always an option for the families of drunken driving victims, but few of the culprits have the money to properly compensate the plaintiffs. If Couch or his family had been penniless, the victims' families would likely have received nothing, and yet would still have to deal with their losses. You can't get blood from a stone, but the Couches have "blood" to spare. By paying "an undisclosed amount" to the Mitchell and Boyles families, as the Morning News reports, the Couches can close off some of the largest sources of civil liability opened by their son Ethan. Why Settle? Given the fact that Couch had already admitted guilt and was convicted in juvenile court for causing the four deaths, settling really was the Couches' best option. Since criminal convictions require a higher standard of proof than civil charges, Couch's convictions would have been more than adequate proof of the teen's responsibility for the killings. By settling these civil claims out of court, the Couches save their son and their family from having to endure a long public trial -- not to mention a jury of their peers, which isn't likely to adore their "affluenza"-afflicted son. Victims' families -- like the Mitchells and the Boyleses -- can also avoid the pain of reliving their loved ones' deaths through trial via a settlement, with the hope that the settlement funds can help them to move on. Still, there are others who survived the crash, like paralyzed teen Sergio Molina, whose families are still awaiting justice, reports the Morning News. Related Resources: Lawyer says settlements 'close' in claims against Ethan Couch, family (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) 'Affluenza' DWI Teen Spared Jail Again (FindLaw's Blotter) Utah Music Venue Sued Over DUI Death (FindLaw's Injured) Applebee's Settles Family's DWI Crash Lawsuit (FindLaw's Injured)
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