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7 Common Surgical Errors: When to Sue for Injuries

Any surgery can be dangerous. First, a medical condition that necessitates surgery is generally a serious one. And even mild anesthesia carries risks. After that, a surgeon has to successfully complete the procedure, and then there's closing the wound up and recovery. That's a lot of things that can go wrong, causing serious and even life-threatening injuries. Here are seven of the most common surgical errors that can lead to patient injuries, and when you might have a case for medical malpractice. 1. Catholic Hospital Refuses Transgender Man's Surgery, Gets Sued Can doctors get in legal trouble before a surgical process ever happens? A few lawsuits have caused hospitals with religious directives to alter their stance on transgender and women's health procedures. 2. Robotic Surgery Injury Lawsuit FAQ It's 2017, meaning that not all of your surgeons are human. Robots can offer steadier hands and less fatigue than their human counterparts, but who's liable when they malfunction? 3. Botched or Wrong-Site Surgery Lawsuits: 3 Legal Questions Surgeries on the wrong limb or organ are, tragically, more common than you'd think. These obvious mistakes are clearly grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits, right? 4. 3M Bair Hugger Lawsuits: Surgical Warming Blankets Causing Deadly Infections It goes without saying that you won't be wearing much during your surgery. So how to you stay warm in those notoriously could environments? And what happens if staying warms goes wrong? 5. Man Sues After Waking During Cataract Surgery It might be every surgery patient's nightmare -- waking in the middle and perhaps even feeling what's going on. Anesthesiologists are held to the same standard as any other medical professional. 6. When Can You Sue for Scarring or Disfigurement? Even if the surgery was success overall, the devil may be in the details. Careless suturing of surgical wounds or even malicious scarring can be grounds for a lawsuit. 7. Can You Sue for Plastic Surgery Results You Don't Like? Results matter in any surgery, especially in elective surgery where the goal is perfection. But is being less than perfectly satisfied with the results of plastic surgery grounds for a lawsuit? Related Resources: Injured during surgery? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) 3 Common Medical Mistakes That Can Lead to Malpractice Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured) 5 Ways Surgery Errors Can Lead to Lawsuits (FindLaw's Injured) Preventable Mistakes Still Happen in Surgery (FindLaw's Injured)
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GM Recall Compensation Fund: 4K Claims, 93 Settlement Offers So Far

GM's ignition-switch recall compensation fund is no longer accepting claims, as the January 31 deadline has passed. But that doesn't mean consumers are without recourse if they (or their loved ones) were injured in a recalled vehicle. As you probably know, GM issued a series of recalls in 2014 after an ignition-switch defect in about 2.6 million vehicles was linked to dozens of injuries and deaths. As federal investigations began, GM set up a victim compensation fund to deal with death and injury claims. In a regulatory filing released Wednesday, GM disclosed details about the fate of many of those claims, The Detroit News reports. Here's what consumers need to know: GM Compensation Fund Claims: By the Numbers GM's victim compensation fund began accepting claims August 1, 2014. According to GM's regulatory filing, during the six-month claims period that ended January 31: A total of 4,180 claims were filed, including more than 1,100 in the final week alone; So far, 482 claims have been rejected, including one that sought compensation for a dog's death; and Reportedly, 455 claims involved a death. Officially, 51 deaths have now been linked to the GM ignition-switch defect. To date, GM has made 93 settlement offers, and none have yet been rejected, according to The Detroit News. It could take another six months to review all of the claims. Is It Too Late to File a Claim? Though GM is standing by its January 31 cutoff date for compensation fund claims, some politicians want the company to extend the deadline. Regardless, anyone injured in a recalled GM vehicle may still be able to pursue legal action; because each case is different, an experienced attorney can review your claim and advise you on the best way to proceed. As for GM car owners who believe they've suffered economic damages (i.e., loss of their vehicle's market value) because of the recalls, a potential legal roadblock related to GM's 2009 bankruptcy reorganization could stand in the way of compensation. (We previously blogged about the "old GM" v. "new GM" issue here.) Despite the potential bankruptcy reorganization issue, more than 100 class-action lawsuits have been filed against GM seeking economic damages. The bankruptcy issue is being heard in a New York courtroom this week, The Detroit News reports. Related Resources: Injured in a recalled GM vehicle? Have an attorney review your claim for free. (Consumer Injury) GM Recall: Do You Need a Lawyer? (FindLaw's Injured) Should You Hire an Injury Lawyer Even If You Plan to Settle? (FindLaw's Injured) GM Ignition Switch Lawsuit: Overview (FindLaw)
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Injured at Work? 3 Potential Options for Recovery

Getting injured at work is a pretty common occurrence, but what are your legal options if you get hurt? According to a FindLaw.com survey, more than one in five Americans said they've been injured on the job. Workplace injuries not only impact you physically, but it can affect you financially as well. Here are three potential legal options to seek out if you're injured at work: 1. Worker's Compensation In most states, worker's compensation ("worker's comp") covers employees who get injured on the job. The purpose of worker's comp is to provide employees who are injured on the job a way to receive fixed amounts of compensation without having to sue their employers. While it's often available, it's important to check to see if your state's laws, occupation, and employer align to provide you worker's comp. If you do receive worker's compensation, it's unlikely that you'll be able to sue your employer in a separate civil lawsuit. However, even if you file for a worker's compensation claim, you may still bring a lawsuit against a third-party if that individual was responsible for the workplace accident. 2. Disability Workplace disability insurance is another potential option for getting compensation for your workplace injury. Employees who've purchased private disability insurance plans may have their injuries covered even if their employers don't provide coverage. The duration for which employees may be compensated under disability insurance depends on whether the plan is a short term or long term plan. On the other hand, your employer may offer a disability insurance plan. Many of these benefits are regulated by the federal government and come with complex regulations that dictate exactly how claims should be filed and received. Errors in filing could lead to a denial of your claim, but you have the option to appeal the denial. While it's not necessary, you might want to have an ERISA lawyer help you file your claim to avoid missing any steps. 3. Sue the Employer If your job isn't covered by worker's compensation or other restrictions, you may sue your employer for your workplace injuries. Depending on the nature of your injury and how it occurred, there are several possible legal avenues for recovery. For example, if you slip and fall at work because your employer failed to clean up a spill or put up a warning sign, you may be able to sue them under premises liability law. Workplace injuries can be painful and keep you out of the office for a period of time. So if you're unsure how to recover damages for your injury, talk to a personal injury attorney in your area to get started. Related Resources: What Are the 7 Most Common Workplace Injuries? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Filing a Workers' Comp Claim (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do You Need a Lawyer for a Workers' Comp Case? (FindLaw's Injured) 4 Potential Ways to Prove Employer Negligence (FindLaw's Injured)
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Top 5 Legal Tips for Your Bachelorette Party

Many a bride-to-be, celebrating her final days as a single lady, want to let loose at a bachelorette party. Whether it's a low-key dinner with friends, a pub crawl, or something a bit more -- how shall we put it? -- memorable, you want everyone to be having a good time. But before you head out to drink colorful shooters out of test tubes with your bridesmaids, make a vow to remember these five legal tips: Provide a hazard-free environment. If the bachelorette party is being hosted at your house, make sure the area is free of blatant hazards that could injure your guests. Under premises liability laws, property owners are responsible for maintaining a relatively safe environment. For example, if you and your friends decide to take dip in the pool later in the evening, you might want to consider putting rubber mats by the pool to prevent slip-and-fall injuries. You don't want your maid of honor on crutches the day of your wedding, right? The legal drinking age still applies at house parties. Although the bride-to-be should get to call the shots, she certainly shouldn't be serving shots to bridesmaids under the age of 21. If you have bridesmaids who are underage and you decide to serve them some alcohol, you could potentially get arrested: Adults who knowingly furnish alcohol to teens or should have known they were drinking while under their care can get in trouble with the law. What happens at a bachelorette party should stay at a bachelorette party. Yes, bachelorette parties are full of memories and scrapbook-worthy moments, but you should probably keep those photos off of social networks. Publicly posted party fouls could cost people their jobs or even get them arrested. Drunken injuries can result in lawsuits. While you may have immunity from your future spouse to do whatever you want on your girls' night out, bachelorette parties aren't immune to personal injury lawsuits if someone gets injured. For example, one man celebrating his impending marriage ruptured his bladder when a stripper slid down the pole and onto his abdomen. The man sued the strip club for his injuries. Don't forget about your neighbors. One final legal tip for your party is to keep the noise down. Whether it's loud music or voices, you'll want to avoid throwing a party that'll bother the neighbors. Loud bachelorette parties can get you cited by the cops. Bachelorette parties are known to get a little crazy sometimes. If something does go wrong, don't freak out. Instead, contact an experienced local attorney about your legal problem, so your status as a bride-to-be doesn't turn into defendant-to-be. Related Resources: Bachelorette Party Leaves Bride Paralyzed (FindLaw's Injured) Gay Bar Owner Insists Bachelorette Party Ban Not Discriminatory (FindLaw's Legally Weird) Destination Weddings: Legal Issues to Remember (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Getting Married? A FindLaw Legal Checklist (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Legal How-To: Getting Married in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a popular wedding destination. But despite pop culture depicting Sin City as the place to go for quickie marriages, there are still a few legal requirements that must be met before your Vegas wedding dream becomes a reality. Here's a general legal overview of how to get married in Las Vegas: Get a marriage license. The first step to getting married in Las Vegas is to apply for a marriage license. Both parties must appear in person at a Clark County Marriage Bureau location and present proper identification with your age and name. There's no waiting period, so couples will get their marriage license the same day they apply. Plus, the marriage bureau is open from 8 a.m. to midnight daily. Do you have legal consent to get married? Before you can legally get married, both parties must have legal capacity to enter into the marriage. This means that if you were previously married, your divorce must be finalized before you can remarry. Also, if you're between the ages of 16 and 17, you must have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. The officiant must be certified by the county clerk. Your officiant must obtain a Certificate of Authority to Solemnize Marriages from a Nevada county clerk in order to legally perform the marriage. So while a minister ordained online may be able to perform your ceremony, you should double check with the Nevada Marriage Officiant Public Search to make sure the person you've chosen is certified. Submit documentation to your county recorder's office. According to the Clark County Clerk's Office, whoever officiates your wedding has 10 days to submit documentation to the recorder's office for your marriage to be recorded. After it's recorded, a marriage certificate will be issued. This certifies that the marriage has taken place and makes you two an official married couple. Need More Help? At this time, Nevada law only allows a male and female to be married, so same-sex couples seeking domestic partnership should contact Nevada's Secretary of State's office for more information. If you need more legal advice on how to get married in Las Vegas, consult a family law attorney who practices there or in a city near you. Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo. Related Resources: Wedding Legal Requirements (Vegas.com) Marriage Annulments: 3 Things You Should Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Destination Weddings: Legal Issues to Remember (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)
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1st GM Ignition-Switch Defect Lawsuit Filed

GM is facing a potential class action lawsuit over an ignition switch defect linked to the recall of more than 1.6 million compact cars. The lawsuit was filed in Texas federal court on Friday, alleging that General Motors knew about the dangerous defect in 2004 but failed to fix it -- putting drivers' lives at risk and reducing the resale value of their vehicles, reports Reuters. What does this suit mean for GM? Federal Suit May Become Class Action Daryl and Maria Brandt filed the lawsuit because of safety risks posed by their 2007 Chevy Cobalt, one of the many models recalled by GM over the ignition switch defect. According to Reuters, the couple claims they "have driven their car less than otherwise" fearing an accident caused by the ignition switch issue. The Brandts do not claim that they were injured in an ignition switch-related accident, but they do want compensation for diminished resale value and the loss of use of their vehicle. Their suit is seeking class action certification, so that the Brandts can represent similarly situated individuals across the country who may have been injured by GM's alleged wrongdoing. In order to be certified as a class action, a federal court must find that: It is impractical for each plaintiff to sue on his or her own, There is a common complaint shared between class members, Class representatives (in this case, the Brandts) have the same claims and defenses as others in the class, and The lawyers and representatives will fairly represent the class. Payouts in class action lawsuits can be substantial. You'll recall a class action suit related to Toyota's sudden acceleration issue settled for more than $1 billion. Legal Troubles Mounting for GM This potential class action suit is yet another legal action on GM's plate over this ignition switch defect. Both Congress and the Justice Department are looking into criminal and civil charges against the car manufacturer for allegedly misleading government regulators by not giving notice of the defect. GM car owners will want to check to see if their vehicle is included in the ignition switch recall, and will also want to consider contacting an experienced motor vehicle defect lawyer if they feel they've been injured by their defective vehicles. Related Resources: Lawsuit Filed Against General Motors Over Ignition-Switch Recall Losses (Insurance Journal) GM Recalls 780K Cars After 6 Deaths (FindLaw's Injured) GM Recall Expands to 1.6M Vehicles; 13 Deaths Reported (FindLaw's Common Law) GM Recalling 1.5M Vehicles Over Fire Risk (FindLaw's Injured)
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Are Workers Entitled to Paid Sick Time Off?

Workers everywhere scramble to remember their sick time off policies whenever they catch a cold, but many are not entitled to paid sick leave. Unless you live in specific states or cities with mandatory paid sick leave laws, there are no laws that require your private employer to pay for your time at home with the flu. Why is that? No Federal Law for Paid Sick Leave The Family and Medical Leave Act, signed into law more than 21 years ago, provides workers with unpaid mandatory time off for serious illnesses and family needs. This federal law applies to most private employers with 50 or more employees and all public employers, but it won't entitle you to paid sick leave even if you're eligible. This means that private employers in most states are not required to provide employers with any paid sick time off. There's also no right to paid vacation time off. As far as federal law is concerned, each private company is more or less free to set its own sick time and vacation policies, as long as they're fairly enforced. State. Local Paid Sick Time Laws There are a few states that require employers to provide workers with paid sick time off. San Francisco the first city to provide all employees with paid sick leave in 2007, no matter the size of the business. Connecticut was the first state to approve a mandatory paid sick leave law, which took effect in 2012. According to a recent FindLaw.com survey, 71 percent of Americans support these kind of laws, and only 10 percent actively oppose them. With support like this, it's no wonder that many other cities and states have mandatory paid sick time on their dockets. Chicago is very close to approving its own mandatory paid sick leave law this month. If you live in a state or city which requires your employer to provide you with paid sick leave, you may be entitled to a paid sick day off. However, several states (see Kansas or Louisiana) have explicitly prohibited local lawmakers from enacting mandatory paid sick leave laws, so the fight for sick time off is far from over. Related Resources: 10 Ways the FMLA Can Work for You (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Time Off for Jury Duty: It's the Law (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do You Get Time Off for Any Religious Holiday? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Browse Employment Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)
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Reminder: Obamacare Deadline Is March 31

The deadline to avoid Obamacare penalties by enrolling in a health plan is March 31, and it is fast approaching. Despite early issues with the HealthCare.gov website, the federal government expects most citizens to be signed up with some form of minimum Obamacare-compliant health coverage or face a tax penalty for 2014. The Washington Post reports that many states are asking the federal government for an extension of that deadline. What should you do to meet the Obamacare deadline? 'Sign Up' Using the Healthcare Insurance Exchange The open enrollment period for healthcare plans began on October 1 and is ending on March 31. Most Americans need to either have some form of minimum health insurance before then, or "sign up" for Obamacare. You sign up for Obamacare through the Health Insurance Exchanges -- either at HealthCare.gov or through your home state's exchange. Some states are still having trouble with their exchange websites. For example, the Post reports that Oregon still doesn't have a fully functioning healthcare enrollment website, and is hoping to get a "month-long extension" from the March 31 deadline. However, there are still many Americans who need not sign up at all for Obamacare, including members of specific religious groups and the extremely poor. But for those who aren't exempt under the Affordable Care Act, you may face a penalty for missing the March 31 deadline. Obamacare Penalty If you do not qualify for an exemption and still don't have health insurance coverage by March 31, you will likely face penalties on your taxes. For those who miss out on this enrollment period in 2014, the penalty applied to your 2014 taxes will be $95 or 1 percent of your household income -- whichever is greater. Since most Americans' household income is more than $9,500, the penalty for not having health insurance by March 31 will likely be much greater than $95. One percent may not seem like a lot, but for middle-class wage earners, the Obamacare penalty may eat away at an already meager tax return. This penalty will increase in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of your household income (whichever is greater), so not having health insurance will become more and more costly on future tax returns. If you're worried about meeting the March 31 deadline and still have questions about Obamacare, contact an experienced health care attorney. Related Resources: Millions May Avoid Obamacare Penalty as Deadline Looms (Bloomberg) What Is an Obamacare Subsidy? Are You Eligible? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How Does Obamacare Affect Medicare? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Supreme Ct.: Nuns Can Skip Obamacare Form, Pending Mandate Appeal (FindLaw's Decided)
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How Does a Lawsuit Become a Class Action?

From claims of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs to allegations of falsely advertised products, we often hear about class action lawsuits in the news. A class action lawsuit is one that is brought against a defendant by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people who suffered the same or similar injuries from the defendant's product or action. But before a lawsuit becomes a class action, there are legal procedures that must be followed. Here is a general overview: Class Certification You cannot simply "file" a class action lawsuit. A lawsuit becomes a class action through a process called class certification. To obtain certification, the court must find that: It is impractical for the plaintiffs to sue individually; Proposed class members share a common complaint; The named plaintiffs -- called the class representatives -- have the same claims and defenses as the others in the class; and The class action lawyer and representative(s) will fairly represent the class. For efficiency's sake, claims needs to raise common legal and factual issues. For example, a court might deny certification if people have suffered different kinds of side effects from a defective drug. Differences in injuries could potentially require different types of evidence for different class members. Opt In or Out? In most cases, once a lawsuit is certified as a class action, the judge will order notice to be given to all potential class members. Those who are notified will usually have the opportunity to join in the action -- called "opting in" -- which means the outcome of the lawsuit will be binding on them. Those notified may also be given the opportunity not to participate as a member of the class -- that is, to "opt out." You may want to opt out, for example, if you want to bring your own lawsuit. However, in some cases, all victims similarly situated will automatically be deemed class members, and will have no opportunity to opt out. Because each class action is different, and because the decision to opt in or out may have binding consequences, you may want to consult an experienced class action attorney about your legal rights -- especially if you believe you have a lot of money at stake. Related Resources: CA Filipina Nurses File Class Action Suit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Coca Cola Faces ERISA Class Action Lawsuit (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Red-Light Camera Settlement: $4.2M for N.J. Drivers (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Live Nation Settlement Could Mean Free Tickets, Discounts (FindLaw's Decided)
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