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Who’s Liable for Snowboarding Injuries, Deaths?

Although spring is right around the corner, snowboarders are still hitting the slopes. So what factors can affect liability in a snowboarding accident? While snowboarding provides riders with an adrenaline rush, it can also result in injuries and even death. That's unfortunately what happened to a 22-year-old snowboarder who died after crashing into a tree in an off-trail area in upstate New York over the weekend, The Associated Press reports. With that accident in mind, here are a few factors that can affect the outcome of snowboarding injury and wrongful-death lawsuits: 1. Premises liability. Snowboarding resorts are responsible for making sure that the premises are reasonably safe for visitors. For example, the resort must regularly check to see that its slopes, equipment, and ski lifts are maintained. However, if a snowboarding injury occurred because of a snowboarder's own negligence, the resort may not be responsible; in some cases, the snowboarder may not be able to recover the full amount of damages. On the other hand, if a private individual owned the property where the snowboarding accident took place, then the land owner must make his land reasonably safe for invited guests. (For a discussion about trespassers, see below.) 2. Snowboarding off-trail. Although ski resorts can potentially be responsible for injuries that occur on their property, they probably won't be liable for snowboarding injuries that happen off designated trails. Still, property owners may have a duty to warn snowboarders about dangerous conditions near the slopes if injuries can be anticipated. For example, the resort may have a duty to warn visitors about a steep cliff that's 20 feet away from the designated course by providing either verbal warnings or putting up warning signs. 3. Liability waivers. Consenting to a liability waiver can affect your ability to sue a ski/snowboarding resort. For instance, some resorts require season pass holders to waive liability for their injuries when they purchase the pass. This waiver could even apply to past seasons if the liability waiver contains a retroactive clause. Liability waivers are also common with regular day passes, so review your agreement carefully. 4. Trespasser or ticket holder? Resorts may be responsible for making sure their slopes are reasonably safe for ticket holders, but they aren't obligated to protect trespassers who enter the property without permission. However, if the resort knows it's prone to trespassers trying to get in for free, the resort must use reasonable care to warn trespassers about dangerous conditions the resort knows about. Like every snowboarding trick, each snowboarding injury lawsuit is unique. So if you've been injured while hitting the powder, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to figure out your next move. Related Resources: Police release name in fatal snowboarding accident (Burlington, Vermont's WPTZ-TV) Ski Injuries: 3 Factors Affecting Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured) Ski Lift Accident: When is Ski Resort to Blame? (FindLaw's Injured) Ski Accidents: Top 3 Ways Not to Get Injured (FindLaw's Injured)
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Miley Cyrus Tongue Slide Lawsuit Alleges Injury

Miley Cyrus' tongue slide has slid into a personal injury lawsuit. Alas, it's not the pop star's real tongue. The lawsuit involves a giant slide modeled after Miley's tongue that the performer slides down to the stage as part of her "Bangerz" tour. So basically, she sticks out her real tongue as she rides down a massive plastic rendition of her tongue sticking out. Tr�s meta! A construction worker claims the tongue slide is a dangerously slippery slope. Miley Cyrus Tongue Slide Snafu Charles Nicholas Sarris is suing ShowFx Inc., the Los Angeles based equipment company that constructed the massive tongue slide for Miley's tour, TMZ reports. Sarris alleges he was hired to assist in the slide construction but was badly injured while working last month. He claims the tools and equipment provided to him failed, causing him to take a nasty fall from Miley's tongue slide and get injured. He's suing for unspecified damages. But do his construction injuries come with the tongue territory? Tongue-Tied Slip and Fall Construction workers regularly confront some of the most dangerous working conditions. On-the-job construction injuries are quite common in the industry. General and sub-contractors must provide to workers a construction site that is reasonably safe. They also have a legal duty to warn of any defects or hazards at the site (as well as any hazards inherent in the work being performed). Sarris claims his slip and fall injury -- the most common type of workplace injury -- resulted from ShowFx's negligence. He claims the company failed to warn him of the potential dangers involved in the slide construction. He also says the tools and equipment provided to him failed to prevent injury, TMZ reports. Worker's Compensation Issues Sarris will likely obtain workers' compensation as most on-the-job injuries are covered by workers' compensation. However, workers' compensation laws might affect his financial recovery against his employer. By contrast, workers' compensation laws probably would not affect lawsuits against other parties potentially responsible for his injuries, such as third-party contractors, property owners, or equipment manufacturers. In this case, it's unclear whether ShowFx is his employer or not, so it's tough to say how workers' compensation will affect his case. Related Resources: Miley Cyrus' Giant Tongue Leads To Lawsuit! Soon We WILL Know Where Miley's Tongue Has Been, Katy Perry -- A Courtroom! (Perez Hilton) NJ Construction Worker Falls Into Tank of Acid (FindLaw's Injured) Elevator Mechanic Awarded $11.7M for Injury (FindLaw's Injured) Cirque du Soleil Accident: Performer Dies on Stage (FindLaw's Injured)
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After a Truck Accident, 5 Questions to Ask a Lawyer

After you're involved in a truck accident, choosing the right lawyer to handle your case is important. So what questions should you ask a truck accident attorney to make sure he or she is the right one for you? Truck accident injuries and fatalities are on the rise, according to the latest government data. But unlike "regular" car crashes, pursuing a truck accident lawsuit often requires particular knowledge in areas such as vehicle codes, individual and employer liability issues, and how to deal with the trucking company's lawyers and insurance agents. There are many factors to consider in a truck accident case, so here are five questions you may want to ask your prospective lawyer: Where are you licensed to practice law? In order to legally practice law in the state where your truck accident occurred, attorneys must be licensed by that state's bar association. So be sure to find an attorney who's licensed in the state where you live in or the state where the accident occurred. Keep in mind that national law firms will often have local attorneys who can help. What are your legal fees? Depending on the complexity of your case, attorneys will either charge a contingency fee, a flat fee, or an hourly rate. Contingency fees are based on a percentage of the amount awarded in the case, so if you don't win, the lawyer doesn't collect the fee -- but you'll still have to pay some expenses. Flat fees are usually offered in more simple cases, while hourly fees will accrue as the case goes on. You should find an attorney whose fees work with your budget and expectations. Have you handled truck accident cases before? Finding an attorney who's experienced in dealing with truck accident claims is essential because these claims often involve multiple parties including the truck driver and the trucking company. Truck accident cases can also require a lot of technical evidence such as truck maintenance reports, training records, and employment handbooks. So make sure your attorney knows the ins and outs of successfully litigating a truck accident case. Is a truck accident lawsuit worth the effort? One question to ask a truck accident attorney is you even have a case that's worth pursuing. For example, in states that have pure contributory negligence laws, injured parties may not be able to collect any damages even if they're found to be just 1 percent at fault. So if you live in one of those states and may have contributed to the accident (for example, by following the truck too closely), you may have a hard time winning your case. Your lawyer will be able to help you analyze your situation from both a legal and a practical standpoint. What documents should I bring to my initial consultation? You should bring all documents relevant to your accident to your initial consultation. This may include medical records, pictures of the damage, and any details you may have collected from other drivers and witnesses at the scene. If you're ready to meet with an attorney to discuss your potential truck accident case, head over to FindLaw's Truck Accident Lawyer Directory to connect with one today. Related Resources: Top 10 States for Fatal Truck Crashes (FindLaw's Injured) Interviewing a Lawyer (FindLaw) Truck Accidents: 3 Potential Ways to Sue (FindLaw's Injured) Dump Truck Hits, Kills Mom Putting Kid in Van (FindLaw's Injured)
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GM Recall Spurs DOJ, Congressional Probes

The DOJ is investigating General Motors for allegedly failing to address dangerous safety problems for years before issuing a recall. Federal prosecutors have been joined by members of Congress, who are beginning their own investigation and will conduct hearings on GM's culpability in allegedly waiting a decade to recall 1.6 million vehicles, reports The New York Times. With so much federal scrutiny, this may be a rough year for GM. Recall, Defect Investigation It isn't uncommon or unseemly for auto manufacturers to issue recalls when a safety issue or defect is discovered. In fact, auto companies are required to issue a recall for any vehicle or part that fails the minimum performance standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or whenever a safety-related defect is discovered. According to the Times, federal prosecutors are reviewing whether GM failed to disclose defects to federal regulators like NHTSA -- or even intentionally misled them. At the center of this investigation is a safety defect in the ignition switch in more than 1 million GM vehicles from model years 2003 to 2007. This defect, which put more than three-quarters of a million American cars at risk, could cause engines to turn off while vehicles are in motion. The defect has been linked to at least six deaths, and prompted a massive recall by GM. Investigators will attempt to figure out why GM allegedly failed to fix this defect for so long. The company may have known about the problem as early as 2004, reports the Times. Criminal and Civil Charges Ahead You may not think that executives can charged under criminal law for failing to issue a recall, but that's exactly what the top brass at GM could potentially be facing. Under the TREAD Act -- one made famous by the Firestone tire disaster -- any person who intentionally misleads federal regulators with respect to dangerous or deadly car defects can face up to 15 years in prison. Anyone at GM who intentionally misled government officials regarding the ignition switch defect could be facing serious federal prison time. Aside from that possibility, the company could also be held liable for millions in civil damages, if lawsuits are successful. However, anyone wishing to sue GM for defect-related injuries will likely need the charges approved by a bankruptcy court. According to Automotive News, when GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009, it agreed to leave all pre-2009 defect issues with "Old GM" in a bankruptcy court. Related Resources: Congress, Justice Department open probes in GM recall (Detroit Free Press) 'New' GM Wants Vehicle Liability Claims to Stay with 'Old' GM (FindLaw's Injured) GM Recall Expands to 1.6M Vehicles; 13 Deaths Reported (FindLaw's Common Law) Browse Motor Vehicle Defects Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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Ryan Ferguson Files $100M Civil Rights Lawsuit

Ryan Ferguson's attorney has filed a $100 million civil rights lawsuit on behalf of the Missouri man wrongly convicted and imprisoned for nearly a decade. As you may recall, Ferguson, 29, was freed in November after spending more than eight years in prison for the murder of Missouri newspaper editor Kent Heitholt in 2001. The court overturned his conviction because the case was rife with evidentiary problems. On the 10th anniversary of his arrest, Ferguson is at the center of a legal dispute again, but this time as a victim in a civil lawsuit. Civil Lawsuit Filed Ryan Ferguson's lawsuit takes aim at the unlawful way authorities conducted their investigation and case. Ferguson's attorney Kathleen Zellner filed the suit against 12 defendants -- including individuals (cops, investigators, and attorneys) as well as the Columbia Police Department, the city of Columbia, Boone County, and the Boone County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Among the lawsuit's numerous claims are allegations of: Destruction and/or suppression of exculpatory evidence, Fabrication of evidence, Reckless or intentional failure to investigate, Malicious prosecution, Conspiracy to deprive constitutional rights, Failure to intervene, False arrest, Defamation, and Indemnification. None of the DNA collected at the scene, or the footprints and fingerprints, matched Ferguson; however, jurors unanimously convicted Ferguson by relying on the testimony of two witnesses. Those two witnesses later confessed to lying under the oath, according to the suit. In addition, details surfaced that prosecutors repeatedly failed to disclose exculpatory evidence -- evidence that could have helped Ferguson and may have changed the outcome of the case. There are also reports that the wife of the key witness was intimidated and coerced by authorities who were overly zealous about obtaining a conviction, St. Louis' KSDK-TV reports. Different Types of Damages The lawsuit asks for actual damages of $75 million and punitive damages of $25 million. Actual damages are awarded to compensate for actual losses (also called "compensatory damages"). The amount awarded is based on the proven harm, loss, or injury suffered by the plaintiff. The actual damages award does not include punitive damages, which may be awarded when a defendant's actions are especially reckless or malicious. Punitive damages are awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing to punish or deter the wrongdoer or deter others from behaving similarly. Considering the level of misconduct alleged and the number of involved parties, Ferguson is certainly poised well to obtain a hefty settlement from his wrongful conviction. Related Resources: Attorney for wrongly convicted Ryan Ferguson files $100M lawsuit (CBS News) Ryan Ferguson vs. State of Missouri (FindLaw) Man Framed for Murder by N.Y. Cop Gets $6.4M (FindLaw's Injured) How Do You Get a Conviction Vacated? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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Woman Jailed for Recording Deputy Plans to Sue

A Florida woman plans to sue the Broward County Sheriff's Office after she was forced to spend a night in jail for recording a deputy during a traffic stop. Brandy Berning, 33, began recording Lt. William O'Brien when she was pulled over for driving alone in a carpool lane. After a dispute over the recording, in which O'Brien told Berning she'd "just committed a felony," Berning was arrested and spent one night in jail, the Sun-Sentinel reports. She was never charged with any crime. The case highlights an issue people often wonder about: Is it legal to record law-enforcement officers during traffic stops? And if so, can you sue when that right is violated? Recording Police at Traffic Stops Generally speaking, you have a First Amendment right to film an officer during a traffic stop. However, you can't stall or interfere with an officer's investigation. Shoving a camera or an iPhone in a cop's face during a traffic stop may be enough to get you arrested for obstructing an officer. In addition, Florida is a "two-consent" state, the Sun-Sentinel explains. That means both parties are required to know about the recording. In Berning's case, she recorded about 15 seconds of her conversation with O'Brien before informing him that she was filming their encounter. If you find yourself in a similar situation and wish to record an officer at a traffic stop, make sure you're in the legal clear and consider these tips: Before you hit the record button, tell the police you are recording them; Keep your camera out of the way (low and close to your body); and If necessary, calmly remind the officers of your right to film them. Again, if you're not interfering with the officers' investigation, you have a right to record police performing their duties. Suing Police Over Recording If officers confiscate your phone or camera, or if they arrest you for lawfully recording your traffic stop, it's best not to get combative (which can lead to charges if things get out of hand). Instead, remember the details of what the officers did, as you could potentially sue the police for violating your constitutional rights. (Note, however, that there is a legal process in place for suing law-enforcement officers and agencies.) In this case, Berning plans to file a lawsuit against the sheriff's office because O'Brien allegedly told her she was committing a felony, demanded she hand over her phone, grabbed and sprained her wrist, and placed her under arrest. The most extreme issue is her spending the night in jail. Berning could potentially claim a host of civil rights violations, including false arrest, false imprisonment, and excessive force. A spokesman for the sheriff's office declined to comment about the incident, the Sun-Sentinel reports. Related Resources: Woman who recorded traffic stop spends night in jail (Miami's WPLG-TV) Deaf Man Sues Over Police Beating, Taser Use (FindLaw's Injured) NYPD Interrogated Boy, 7, for 10 Hours: $250M Claim (FindLaw's Injured) Browse Civil Rights Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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