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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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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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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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How to Prepare for a Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer

When injured in a car accident, it's common to feel bent out of shape. Your car might be a compressed chunk of metal. You might be sitting in the hospital or at home nursing some nasty injuries. And going to work, school, or about your daily routine? Yeah ... so much for that. It's normal to vent (and we certainly encourage you to vent). But, as they say, revenge is a dish best served by your lawyer. So here's some advice for preparing for your initial consultation with a car accident attorney. 1. Make a Timeline Cases are built on the facts. Your lawyer is going to want as many details as possible, and will press you for specifics, specifics, specifics. What happened, when did it happen, how did it happen, and in what order did it happen? It's a good idea to make a timeline with as much information and detail as possible. This will get you thinking about the case from a legal perspective, and give your lawyer a prepared account of the facts right off the bat. 2. Bring Records and Documents Written documentation is very important to lawyers, and gathering it is a major part of preparing a case. Prepare copies of accident reports, insurance information, witness contact information, medical records, photographs from the scene, and names of doctors, nurses, police officers, chiropractors, and medical facilities -- everything connected with the accident. You can use a checklist to gather records in advance. 3. Be Prepared to Answer Questions Lawyers are trained to tease out information and details with questions. You should be prepared to answer all of them as best you can. Besides being a tool for figuring out what happened, your responses tell a lawyer other, more subtle things too. Like whether you'd be a good client to take on and how a jury might respond to you on the witness stand. It's never too early to strategize! 4. Ask the Questions You Want to Ask Lawyers are trained to be lawyers, but no one is trained to be a client. The best way to get information is to ask an attorney. Feel free to ask a lawyer about her experience handling similar cases, background and training, fees, and what you should expect going forward. Knowing what to expect can bring relief and help make sure you and your lawyer are on the same page going forward. Related Resources Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Car Accidents (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Top 7 Car Accident Lawsuit Questions (FindLaw's Injured)
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Model Can Seek $1.5M for HIV Ad Featuring Her Image

Those that ascribe to the "any PR is good PR" mantra might be tempted to tell a model that any use of her image would be a good use. But what about a use that implies she is HIV positive? That happened to model Avril Nolan after New York's Division of Human Rights ran a full-color, quarter-page ad featuring her face, beside the words "I am positive (+)" and "I have rights," all without her permission. Nolan sued, claiming the ad was defamatory and that the DHR violated state civil rights laws. And a state appeals court agreed, with the defamation part at least. Per Se Bad Publicity The court's ruling is a bit dicey, politically speaking. Nolan is claiming that the unauthorized association of her image with HIV is a particular kind of defamation per se. Normally, in order to succeed in a defamation lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that the false assertion caused some tangible damage to her reputation. But some false statements are considered so damaging that they are deemed defamatory on their face, and don't require the same proof of damages. One category of defamation per se is an indication that a person has a "loathsome," contagious, or infectious disease. The state tried to argue that an association with HIV wasn't inherently damaging, highlighting recent cases where courts ruled that merely calling someone gay was not slanderous, and even pointing to celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Magic Johnson who remain popular despite publicly affirming their HIV-positive status. But the Supreme Court of New York's Appellate Division wasn't on board: Further, claimant, in countering the State's anecdotal evidence regarding public figures with HIV, cites several sociological studies establishing that HIV continues to be a significant stigma. For example, she cites to academic studies from 2014 and 2015 that conclude that people fear getting tested for HIV because of the perceived social repercussions of a positive result. Since it can still be said that ostracism is a likely effect of a diagnosis of HIV, we hold that the defamatory material here falls under the traditional "loathsome disease" category and is defamatory per se. So while the intent of the ad campaign might've been to reduce the stigma surrounding an HIV diagnosis, enough of that stigma still exists to make a false association regarding such a diagnosis defamatory. Rejected Civil Rights Claims Nolan also alleged the DHR's unapproved use of her photo violated state civil rights laws that prohibit the nonconsensual use of a person's image for commercial purposes. The appeals court was less sympathetic to this claim, finding "DHR was engaged in a decidedly noncommercial campaign designed to advance its mission of promoting civil rights." Still, Nolan may recover up to $1.5 million in damages for the emotional distress she says she suffered after publication of the ad. Related Resources: Find Defamation Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Injured) What's the Difference Between Libel and Slander? (FindLaw's Injured) Invasion of Privacy: False Light (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Is Invasion of Privacy? (FindLaw's Injured)
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