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Can Victims of a Mass Shooting Sue the Government?

The best answer is, it's unlikely. True, litigants sue the government every day, over alleged civil rights violations, controversial laws, run-of-the-mill personal injury claims against government agencies and employees, and more. The real question is usually less about whether you can you sue the government, and more about the likelihood of success. Suing the Government Is an American Tradition Overall it's fairly common to sue the government. Special needs students may challenge a school district's educational offerings. People deprived of their rights by government policies may challenge those policies in court. Even ordinary claims for money damages -- arising out of personal injury, death, or property damage -- can be litigated before an administrative agency or judge. What's less certain is what happens in exceptional cases. Most (successful) lawsuits against the government rely on recognizable claims, alleging violations of well-accepted rights or duties, seeking relief for identifiable injuries or losses. Suing the postal service after a mail carrier crashes their mail truck into your house, for example, is pretty routine. But lawsuits based on novel legal theories, expanded notions of rights, or for damages that are difficult to ascertain are a different matter. They're not impossible. Some of the most celebrated cases in legal history were filed on a prayer. Mass shooting lawsuits fall into that bucket. What About Mass Shootings? The obvious person(s) to sue is the person(s) responsible for resulting injuries. The reality is that they're often judgment proof. And it's unusual for courts to find someone else -- even governments -- legally liable for their crimes. Maintaining safe premises in schools or office buildings is one thing. Responsibility for someone else's intentional, criminal acts enters into a different realm. Related Resources Find a Civil Rights Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Can A School Be Sued for a Shooting? (FindLaw's Injured) Injury Claims Against the Government (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Kids Around the World are Suing Their Governments for Ruining the Planet (Quartz)
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Is It Illegal to Let a Friend Borrow Your Gun?

Your gun, your rights, your problem? It's pretty common in America to let someone borrow, use, try, or otherwise handle a firearm. Hunters do it in the woods, shooters at the range, purchasers at trade shows, and kids at summer camps. Put those scenarios to one side, then consider the other side: criminal defendants arguing about who used whose gun to shoot so-and-so, or an otherwise responsible owner having to explain how his gun ended up in a kid's backpack at school. So what's the law on letting someone borrow your gun? America's Patchwork Gun Laws There's an old legal adage that everything is legal unless prohibited. While it's not necessarily true, it's a fairly good guide when it comes to gun laws. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution grants individuals a right to possess a firearm for lawful purposes, and this applies to states as well. Federal Gun Laws Federal law bans anyone convicted of a felony from possessing a firearm. That's one of the more common federal criminal prosecutions out there. It's also illegal to ship a firearm out of state without a license. Certain types of firearms - assault weapons, military grade hardware, etc. -- are either banned or tightly regulated. It's important to know who you'd be giving your gun to. Note any specific laws about the type of weapon as well. State Gun Laws From there, it really depends where you live. State gun control laws vary considerably. Buying, selling, or transferring ownership of a gun might be regulated where you live. Virtually all states prohibit possessing a gun near a school. Big cities and urban areas may have more restrictive policies than the countryside. Gun laws are for the most part state and laws, and it's difficult to generalize. Related Resources Find a Criminal Defense Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) America's Gun Culture in 10 Charts (BBC News) State Gun Control Laws (FindLaw's State Laws) Legal How-To: Giving a Gun as a Gift (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Can You Sue a ‘Naturopathic Doctor’?

Mario Rodriguez was a twenty-one year old physics student in Spain. So when he was diagnosed with leukemia, he did what you might not expect him to do. He spent �4,000 on alternative medicines and shunned a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy. He later died of an intestinal infection, and his father sued the naturopathic doctor who prescribed his treatment. Can this sort of lawsuit happen in the U.S.? What Is Naturopathic Medicine? Naturopathic medicine, according to the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, "focuses on holistic, proactive prevention and comprehensive diagnoses and treatment." It's alternative medicine that emphasizes herbal supplements, boosting the natural immune systems, and other not-exactly-mainstream treatments in place of more traditional medicine. State regulation of the naturopathic profession is limited to eighteen states, according to the American Medical Profession (they're not a fan). And scientific support for their methods can be suspect, as can be coverage from health insurance plans. Naturopathic Doctors and Medical Doctors As you might imagine, naturopathy is controversial in the health care field. Many Naturopathic practitioners receive four-year degrees and are licensed, but many naturopath practitioners are not. Training can differ considerably from place to place and person to person, as can their treatment plans. That said, many people swear by naturopathic treatments. They remain a semi-popular alternative to traditional medicine. Suing Naturopathic Doctors Medical practitioners are responsible for providing sound care to patients. When they fall short, whether through negligence or otherwise, a medical malpractice lawsuit can result. And the same is true with naturopathic doctors. Fraud cases might be brought against naturopathic treatment providers, and, generally, juries are less sympathetic to naturopaths than medical doctors when things go wrong. Related Resources: Find a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) FTC Forces Homeopathic Drug Makers to Tell the Truth (FindLaw's Common Law) Creator of Bogus Celebrity Diet Faces 3 Years in Jail (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Turmeric IV Infusion Implicated in Woman's Death (FindLaw's Common Law)
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Amtrak Liability for Train Accident Deaths

Your legal rights don't expire when you die. Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving family members to sue train operators for these damages and to hold them accountable. So what's Amtrak's liability for train accident deaths? Well, it's clear but complicated. Trains Are Common Carriers Trains, planes, and automobiles are what lawyers call common carriers. A common carrier is anything that transports people or goods for a fee owes passengers a higher duty of care in ensuring their safety. Common carrier liability is an old but sensible legal concept. A driver of a car is responsible for his accidents; anyone hauling many people should be even more careful. It's common for wrongful death lawsuits against train operators to cite common carrier liability (among other grounds) when suing. Amtrak's Liability It's common for train accident related deaths to rack up huge medical bills, lost income to family and dependents, funeral costs, possible property damage, and more. These costs can be prohibitive for family members and don't go away. Amtrak, despite receiving government funds, is liable for its torts like most government entities. However, there's a catch. Congress has capped Amtrak's liability at $295 million. That may sound like a lot, but when you're talking about over eighty people's hospital costs, lost income from missing work, continuing health needs and rehab bills, and more -- it adds up pretty fast. Amtrak Train Accident Lawsuits Amtrak's issues have made recent news, including a derailment in Washington State in December 2017. Two survivors of that crash have already sued for personal injuries sustained in the crash, the first of what's expected to be many similar lawsuits. Related Resources Find a personal injury attorney near you (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What Laws Govern The Amtrak Crash? (FindLaw's Injured) Common Carrier Liability in Light of Amtrak Crash in PA (FindLaw's Injured)
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After 11 Deaths, Guardrail Manufacturer Sued for Negligence

Two lawsuits filed in South Carolina and Tennessee last week added to a manufacturer's growing woes. Lindsay Corporation, the Omaha-based maker of the X-LITE guardrail commonly used on the side of highways, has faced growing criticism that it's guardrails are defectively designed and fail to protect drivers and passengers during car collisions, resulting in several injuries and deaths. The X-LITE End Terminal The X-LITE End Terminal is installed at the start and end of guardrails along highways and roads across the country. Rounding out the sharp pointy ends of a line of roadside railing, it's easy to understand how this particular component gets hit by unwary or inattentive motorists. The lawsuits allege that the end terminal fails to slide into the rest of the guardrail during a collision, a process known as "telescoping." Telescoping can reduce the force of impact during a collision, and as importantly, prevent the guardrail's horizontal beams from penetrating the cabin of an incoming car and spearing passengers inside. Federal and State Agency Review Highway safety is entrusted to federal and state government agencies. Several have acted already. In April, Tennessee announced that it would remove and replace some 1,700 guardrail ends, at a cost of several million dollars to the state's budget. The U.S. Department of Transportation previously announced a review of the X-LITE end terminal last May. The agency noted at the time the guardrail component is installed in 29 states, but that 80% of the X-LITE end terminals are installed in Tennessee, West Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. Other states are currently reviewing the guardrail's safety and performance. Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits Meanwhile, several victims have taken to the courtroom, alleging that Lindsay Corporation's guardrail ends are defectively designed and that the company is liable for resulting injuries and deaths. Injury and wrongful death lawsuits of this sort are common resources for people injured by defective products to recover compensation for their injuries from the product manufacturer. Related Resources Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Wrongful Death Overview (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Highway Guardrail Impalement Injuries, Deaths Lead to Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured Blog)
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Elon Musk Sells Flamethrowers: Are They Legal to Own?

Watch out for flamethrower bearing BBQers this summer. Elon Musk, the attention-grabbing entrepreneur behind Tesla and SpaceX, has fired up Twitter and legions of his loyal followers with a brand-spanking new toy -- a commercially available flamethrower. The Future Is Flamethrower? Musk's flamethrower has already become a hit. Pre-sales have quickly sold out online. There's no word about future flamethrowers hitting the market, so this might be a gag gift or the start of a new trend. But it raises interesting legal questions which, yes, we're here to blog about. It's Easier to Buy a Flamethrower Than a Gun You might be surprised to learn that only two states regulate flamethrowers. California requires flamethrower users and buyers to have a permit, while Maryland bans them entirely. But you shouldn't be too surprised. There's never been a wave of flamethrower-related violence to spur states and Congress to enact flamethrower laws. Hence their absence. All flamethrowers will ship with a complimentary boring fire extinguisher February 1, 2018 That might change soon, however. California is already rumbling about a ban on flamethrower sales, and we'd expect other states to follow if necessary. Use Your Flamethrower Wisely What's always prohibited are crimes -- no matter what's used to commit them. Most criminal laws criminalize actions - murder, kidnapping, assault, etc. -- and "add on" counts or prison time for using prohibited items. ELON I BOUGHT 6 FLAMETHROWERS NOW THE TSA IS TELLING ME I'M ON SOME SORT OF WATCHLIST?!? WHAT HAVE I DONE PLEASE HELP February 1, 2018 Those definitions are flexible: a car can be deadly weapon, as can be a surgeon's hands. A flamethrower might pose an interesting case for an appellate court someday, but it's not something we'd expect to be a winning argument. Related Resources Find Your Lawyer (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Is It Legal to Own a Flamethrower? (lifehacker.com) Flamethrower Drone Draws Government Ire. Can the FAA Regulate? (FindLaw's Technologist Blog)
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Woman Sues Doctor for Bias in Denying Injury Claim

When you suffer an injury at work or in an accident, you're usually entitled to insurance benefits to cover the expenses related to treating your injuries. Unfortunately, collecting insurance benefits isn't as easy as simply filing an insurance claim. After filing a claim, the insurance company will usually investigate the claim to make sure you qualify for insurance. This investigation can include anything from talking to you to having a doctor provided by the insurance company to examine you. If you think that having a medical examination by a doctor recommended by the insurance company investigating your claim seems a little biased, you're not alone. In fact, one woman has filed a lawsuit claiming that she was denied benefits because the doctor who examined her was biased in favor of the insurance company that recommended him. Do Insurance Companies Hire Biased Doctors? According to an article published in Argus Leader, which is part of the USA Today Network, Kristi Thompson suffered a debilitating neck injury at work, but was denied benefits because, according to her, the insurance company specifically hired a doctor that would dispute her injury claim.More specifically, Thompson's lawsuit accuses the insurance company of bad faith, including hiring a doctor that the company knew (or at least should have known) "was biased in favor of insurance companies." Thompson's claims aren't unfounded as there has been growing scrutiny of insurance companies' use of certain doctors who routinely provide reports in favor of insurance companies. In fact, the article mentions that in 2016, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a doctor's opinion alone isn't enough to deny an insurance claim.Navigating Bias in Your Personal Injury Claim While it's hard to know how often this occurs, there are certain steps you can take to help increase your chances of succeeding in your personal injury claim. One invaluable step is to contact a personal injury attorney, who will know the laws and procedures for personal injury claims in your state. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Torts and Personal Injuries (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Supreme Court Tightens Injury Lawsuit Rules (FindLaw's Injured) 5 Common Questions About Which Injuries Qualify for Workers' Compensation (FindLaw's Injured)
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When Can Sexual Assault Survivors Sue for Defamation?

Being a victim of sexual assault is bad enough, but finally finding the courage to speak up and then being called a liar -- or worse -- by the person who assaulted you, is even worse. There may, however, be a recourse for these types of circumstances. Women who have survived a sexual assault have been turning to defamation lawsuits to fight back against their attackers.In many instances, this is not only to clear their own name but also because the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim of sexual assault has passed. And while not every attacker who has called his or her victim a liar will win a defamation lawsuit, it's a viable option for sexual assault survivors who think they can prove the elements of defamation. The Elements of a Defamation Lawsuit Defamation laws will vary from state to state, but there are some general standards that make these laws similar to each other. In general, a person must prove the following in order to prevail in a defamation lawsuit: The defendant made a statement The statement was published The statement caused injury The statement was false, and The statement didn't fall into a privileged category Some explanation is necessary to better understand the elements listed above. The statement can be oral (slander) or written (libel), and a statement is "published" if a third party has heard, seen, or read the statement. Harm to reputation is enough to satisfy the injury element. Finally, while the other elements may be met, if the statement was privileged, a defamation lawsuit will fail. An example of a privileged statement is one given as a witness at a trial.As you can see, a sexual assault survivor isn't always going to be able to sue his or her attacker for defamation, but if may be possible if the attacker speaks badly enough about the victim. To understand if you have a legal claim, contact a personal injury lawyer for help. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Torts and Personal Injuries (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Sex Crimes (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Civil Lawsuits for Sexual Assault, Harassment: Top 10 Cases and Questions (FindLaw's Injured)
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Oklahoma Oil Companies Can Be Sued for Worker’s Death

The family of David Chambers Sr., a truck driver who was fatally burned after being dispatched to an oil well back in 2014, can proceed in their state lawsuit against the Oklahoma oil well operator. That's the unanimous (8-0) ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Strickland v. Stephens Production Company, a decision that highlights some of the complexities of state workers' compensation laws when it comes to favored (and politically savvy) industries. Workers' Compensation Laws Workers who suffer from work-related injuries are normally eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Compensation can cover medical expenses, lost income, costs of rehabilitation and continuing care, and potentially other losses. Workers comp, at least, generally isn't a fault based thing. Injuries are injuries and workers' compensation is designed to work more as an insurance system than a run-of-the-mill civil lawsuit. What's also common is for states to make workers' compensation an exclusive remedy. You can't receive WC benefits and then sue your company too. Or even, sometimes, as happened here, sue them at all. That's what Stephens Production Company argued after being sued by Chambers' surviving relatives for wrongful death, negligence, and similar civil claims in state district court. And the company had a point, since that's precisely what the state's statute said applied for oil and gas well operators. So what happened here? Striking an Oil Exception in Oklahoma The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the statute's limit on civil liability for oil and gas well operators as an unconstitutional 'special law' under the state's constitution. As the court wrote in its opinion, the legislature couldn't 'singl[e] out one specific industry for special treatment under the workers' compensation system.' Related Resources Browse Workers' Compensation Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Director) Workers' Compensation Laws by State (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of Workers Comp Law (KFOR News)
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If I Get Into a Fight at Work, Can I Still Get Workers’ Comp?

It's not common, but workplace fights do happen. Tensions build. Voices are raised. Tempers flare. And, in the extreme, shoves, punches, and piledrivers may get thrown about. Whether it's started by an argumentative customer upset about their caramel macchiato or two colleagues having a heated debate about something-totally-not-worth-fighting-about, injuries can result. So when you're injured in a fight at work, is workers' compensation still a thing? What Is Workers Compensation? Workers' compensation is a workplace insurance system for work-related injuries. Injured workers may have medical costs, lose wages while out of work, and sometimes suffer long-term disabilities as a result. That's what workers' compensation is for. Construction workers, delivery drivers, even dishwashers who die taking out the trash can receive workers' compensation benefits. Police and fire departments often carry extensive (and expensive) workers' compensation policies due to the physically taxing and dangerous nature of their jobs. Workers' Comp for Workplace Fights So long as it's a work-related injury, it's potentially covered. But it shouldn't surprise anyone that the law imposes limits on workers' compensation eligibility when fights occur. Under California law, for example, a worker who's the initial aggressor isn't eligible for workers' comp. Purely personal disputes that overflow into a place of business might not qualify either. The idea behind the entire system is compensating injured workers, after all. The further the facts stray from that legal standard, the more tenuous the case. Find Out If You're Eligible for Workers' Compensation Workers' compensation cases can be complicated. Claims are heard through state agencies, and when an employer contests a claim, the going can get tougher. If you're injured following a fight at work, speaking to a workers' comp attorney is a smart move. Related Resources Find a Workers' Compensation Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Workers' Compensation Laws by State (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Can I Get Workers' Compensation If Assaulted at Work? (FindLaw's Injured)
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