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burden of proof

Suing for Injuries at Walmart and Other Big Box Stores

If you are injured by someone else’s negligence while shopping at a Walmart, or any big box store, you may be wondering what you need to do in order to recover. Depending on how the injury happened, you may be able to negotiate a settlement with a claims representative. If your claim is against Walmart itself, you’ll likely need to file a lawsuit against the store (as Walmart has a bad reputation for not settling injury claims). What might come as a shock to many is that Walmart tops the charts when it comes to the number of lawsuits they face annually. While recent statistics are difficult to track down, at one point, the goliath faced approximately 5,000 new cases per year, or nearly 13 lawsuits every single day. In and Around the Big Box Big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Costco typically will have internal procedures that they will want to follow to document an injury that occurs on their premises. Usually, the internal procedures require the store management to gather information about how the injury occurred, as well as collecting witness information. If the injury is severe, sometimes a store may require a person be transported via ambulance, or be treated by paramedics on-site. While it may be helpful for your legal case to cooperate when injured, focusing on your health and safety should be your first priority. Lawsuits from slip and fall injuries in stores are fairly common. Depending on your state’s laws, and how your injury occurred, the complexity of your case can vary drastically. Not all injuries are the result of negligence, or the fault of another. In some states, slip and fall injuries put a much higher burden of proof on the plaintiff than in others. Typical personal injury claims while shopping at a retail store will be for negligence or premises liability. Product and Delivery Driver Liability In addition to all the lawsuits Walmart faces for in-store injuries by customers and employees, lawsuits also occur over delivery drivers accidents and dangerous products. Most prominently, comedian Tracy Morgan was involved in a fatal bus accident caused by a Walmart truck, which resulted in a rare high value settlement from Walmart, rumored to be close to $100 million. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Disabled Woman’s Parents Sue Walmart Over Shoplifting Arrest (FindLaw’s Injured) Walmart Dress Caused Sexless Marriage, Lawsuit Claims (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Long-Haired Woman Sues Walmart Over Shampoo-Related ‘Suffering’ (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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Prior Bad Acts: Who Can Testify in Bill Cosby’s Criminal Trial?

Bill Cosby is the elder statesman of American comedy whose life has turned into a bad drama, now including a criminal case. Next month, Cosby will return to criminal court in Pennsylvania for pretrial proceedings on three charges of felony indecent assault of Barbara Constand and faces ten years in prison if convicted. Despite the dozens of accusations of abuse that have surfaced from women all over the country, this is Cosby's first criminal prosecution. The case was filed just two days before the 12-year statute of limitations on such claims in Pennsylvania expired, according to USA Today. It raises many interesting legal questions, all complex. Today, let's consider prior bad acts and whether Cosby's other accusers can testify against him. Prior Bad Acts Generally speaking, a crime cannot be proven based on a defendant's behavior in other situations. While a criminal record informs sentencing, each crime must be proven based on the facts of the case at hand and not based on evidence of similar acts in the past . But for every rule in the law, there are important exceptions because a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. That is to say, sometimes it makes sense to consider external evidence if it is highly relevant to the matter at hand. In a case like this one, where there are about 50 women saying that Cosby drugged and touched them without their consent, the prosecution will no doubt argue that it's relevant. Prosecutors will seek to admit evidence from other women whose stories are consistent with Constand's. To the extent that there are questions about the alleged victim's credibility because she waited a year to report the crime and thus there is no physical evidence, a slew of witnesses telling the same story would certainly support her claim that Cosby drugged and touched her against her will. Admitting the Evidence Admitting evidence of prior bad acts is not a given, however. The defense will no doubt fight it, relying on precedent to show that the stories would not be considered consistent evidence. The burden of proof on prosecutors is high -- they must show the evidence is more relevant than prejudicial. Dennis McAndrews, a former prosecutor, who teaches criminal law at Villanova University explained to reporters, according to USA Today: "It's very challenging because courts are reluctant. They hold the prosecution to a tight burden to establish that (the testimony) is highly relevant, that the facts of other cases are close to the case (on trial), and that the probative value significantly outweighs the prejudicial effect." In light of this, it is not yet clear that the judge will allow the testimony of other women to prove Bill Cosby assaulted Barbara Constand, But it's certain the Cosby's defense lawyers will challenge admission of that evidence at every turn. If he is convicted, admission of prior bad acts will be a major issue in the inevitable appeal. Accused? If you have been accused of a crime, don't delay. Meet with a criminal defense attorney today. Many lawyers consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Cosby Counterclaims Against 7 Accusers (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Cosby Complains in Court: Insurers Threaten Defamation Claim (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Model Drops Playboy Assault Case Against Cosby (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) Janice Dickinson Sues Bill Cosby for Defamation (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
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Should You Take the Stand in Your Own Defense?

To many criminal defendants, taking the stand to defend themselves seems like a righteous and principled choice. That may have been Sulaiman Abu Ghaith's reasoning last week, when the man better known as Osama bin Laden's son-in-law took the stand during his terrorism trial. However, other high-profile defendants like George Zimmerman have opted not to testify at trial. Should you be convinced to take the stand in your own defense? Support for Taking the Stand As Ghaith might have felt as he took the stand last Wednesday, there is a certain sense of respect or earnestness that comes with directly voicing your own defense. In fact, one defense attorney told the Portland Press Herald that juries often want to hear from defendants, and testifying "can go a long ways toward convincing a jury of their innocence." The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees every criminal defendant the right to take the stand and the right to refuse to testify. Many defendants exercise their right to tell jurors what happened in their own words, offering emotional and factual details that could otherwise be lost. Reasons Not to Take the Stand Because it is a constitutional right, attorneys often cannot prevent their clients from testifying, even if it is a terrible idea. In some cases, even if a defense attorney is certain his client is very likely going to lie on the stand, the attorney may be ethically bound to allow the defendant to testify. Keep in mind, though, that in many criminal cases, it is neither advisable nor necessary for a defendant to take the stand because the prosecution has the burden of proof. Criminal defendants are innocent until proven guilty and are not even required to present a speck of evidence in their defense -- much less to testify. When defendants do take the stand, it is a potential invitation for prosecutors to rip them to pieces during cross-examination. Even the most composed persons can become angry, blustering, guilty-looking buffoons when grilled by a skilled prosecutor. An equally skilled criminal defense attorney can advise you whether you should take the stand in your own criminal case -- advice that shouldn't be ignored. Related Resources: Al-Qaeda spokesman Abu Ghaith takes stand in own trial (BBC News) 5 Reasons Defendants Choose Not to Testify (FindLaw's Blotter) Fool Represents Self, Reported Guns Stolen with Fake ID (FindLaw's U.S. First Circuit Blog) Should You Represent Yourself in Court? (FindLaw)
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