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emotional distress

When Can You Sue for PTSD for Auto Accident Injuries?

When a person is injured in an auto accident, they may be entitled to recover monetary damages for their injuries. In some circumstances, an injury victim can be entitled to recover after suffering an emotional, or mental health, injury, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a result of a car accident. Unless the mental health injury rendered a person incapacitated, they will need to file a lawsuit within the normal time period allowed by their state to file. While uncommon, in severe auto accidents, particularly when there is a loss of life, severe injuries, or maybe just a whole lot of property damage, it is easily foreseeable that an individual could suffer from PTSD. However, to establish a personal injury case based upon a PTSD diagnosis can be rather challenging. Unlike broken bones, cuts, bumps, and bruises, a mental health injury may not visible on the surface. Problems of Proof When suing for a PTSD injury related to a car accident, a plaintiff will need to prove that a qualified doctor made an accurate PTSD diagnosis and that the diagnosis is attributable, at least in part, to the accident. To accomplish this, it is highly likely that expert medical witness testimony will be required. However, despite what a medical expert states, other problems could arise if the accident was only a minor accident, or there are other tragic incidents, particularly recently, in the plaintiff’s past, or a prior diagnosis for PTSD. However, even if a diagnosis may not be attributable to an accident, a flare up of PTSD symptoms may still be relevant. In other words, it can be claimed that a car accident made an individual’s PTSD worse. One Bite of the Settlement Apple A significant problem with PTSD auto accident claims is the timing of a settlement. Frequently, injury victims will settle their cases within 6 month or a year after their injury without ever filing a lawsuit. Just as frequently, PTSD can go undiagnosed for months, or longer if a victim does not have a solid support network. Unfortunately, in nearly every state, once a person settles a personal injury claim, they cannot reopen the case unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as a fraud in the inducement to sign. Typically, an undiscovered injury will not qualify to reopen a settled case. Related Resources: Injured in a car accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Can You Sue Over Mental Stress, Trauma? (FindLaw’s Injured) Can You Get Workers’ Comp for PTSD? (FindLaw’s Injured) 5 Ways to Prove Emotional Distress (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Is the President Immune From Defamation Lawsuits?

Before he was President Donald Trump, he was host of the reality TV series "The Apprentice" Donald Trump. But his actions then may come back to legally haunt him now. Summer Zervos, a former "Apprentice" contestant, is suing the president, claiming his denials of her sexual harassment claims amounted to defamation. But Trump's attorneys are planning to argue that the president is immune from this and other civil lawsuits while he remains in office. Is that argument going to work? Defamatory Statements Zervos appeared on Trump's TV show in 2006, and was seeking a job with the Trump Organization when the president allegedly groped her breast and began to kiss her aggressively against her will. Trump denied the allegations, calling them a "total fabrication" and a "hoax," while calling Zervos a "phony" and labeling other women making similar claims of sexual harassment "liars." Zervos then sued in New York state court, claiming Trump's attack caused her emotional distress and lost business, and that Trump knew his denials of her allegations were defamatory, because he knew the truth of their interactions and "engaged regularly in this kind of unwanted sexual touching for years, and that was, in fact, how he treated women routinely and how he lived his life." Defamation, legally speaking, refers to any false statement that hurts someone's reputation. In order to win a defamation lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that someone made a statement, the statement was published, the statement caused an injury, the statement was false, and the statement did not fall into a privileged category. Presidential Immunity Bill Clinton attempted to mount the same immunity defense when he was sued by Paula Jones for sexual harassment. Back then, the Supreme Court ruled that litigation against a sitting president can proceed if it is over conduct unrelated to his public office. While conceding that point generally, Trump's attorneys are asking for deference in scheduling and for the court to stay the lawsuit until after Trump's presidency. Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz also wrote: "Defendant Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States, intends to file a motion to dismiss this action on the ground, among others, that the United States Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause contained therein, immunizes the President from being sued in state court while in office." As the Washington Post points out, this issue of presidential immunity in state courts remains unresolved, as the Paula Jones case involved federal sexual harassment claims. So while the president might not be immune to defamation claims, those claims may need to be filed in federal court. In an interesting twist to the case against Trump, one of the lawyers who successfully argued against Clinton's immunity was George T. Conway III, husband of Trump aide Kellyanne Conway and nominated by Trump to lead the Justice Department's civil division. Related Resources: Find Defamation Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Trump Claims Immunity From 'Apprentice' Contestant's Lawsuit (USA Today) Do You Know How Slander, Libel and Defamation are Different? (FindLaw's Injured) Is It Worth Suing for Defamation to Protect Your Reputation? (FindLaw's Injured)
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When to Sue a Pediatrician for Malpractice

There are fewer malpractice claims against pediatricians than any other specialty, according to a recent study. But that same study concluded that a higher percentage of pediatric claims went to trial. Perhaps that's because, pediatricians are tasked with providing medical care for our children, and their mistakes, though few, can be especially tragic. Here's what you need to know about pediatric care and the possibility of medical malpractice lawsuits. Malpractice Elements Doctors, like anyone else, can be held liable for injuries they cause. And while state laws may vary, most medical malpractice lawsuits are premised on four main elements: Duty: Pediatricians owe their patients a duty of care, to diagnose and treat ailments to the same ability of other pediatricians. Breach: They can breach that duty by failing to meet the standard of care, such as by misdiagnosing or mistreating their child patients. Causation: A child patient can be injured as the result of a pediatrician's breach of duty, and in court they must prove these injuries were the fault of the pediatrician, and not something else, and that the pediatrician could or should have foreseen those injuries. Damages: The child patient's injuries, like medical expenses, emotional distress, or other harm must be compensable by money damages in order to recover in court. If all of these elements are found, you likely have a strong claim for pediatric malpractice, though proving each element of a case can be complicated. Pediatrician Malpractice Claims A pediatrician could be liable for medical malpractice for failing to diagnose an illness or medical issue, for misdiagnosing an ailment, or for prescribing the wrong treatment. Pediatricians could also be held liable for the negligent prescription of a medication or medical devices if they ignored the manufacturer's instructions, or prescribe an incorrect medication or dosage. To find out if you can sue a pediatrician for malpractice, you may want to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Related Resources: Does your child have an injury claim? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) 5 Signs You May Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney (FindLaw's Injured) Top Reasons Doctors Get Sued for Malpractice (FindLaw's Injured) Should Doctors Have to Tell Patients If They're on Probation? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Can I Sue for Snowball Injuries or Property Damage?

You’re dreaming of a white Christmas and everything that entails, like sledding, skating, and snowballs. But what if someone breaks a window, or worse, a skull, in a snowball fight? Rest assured, you can sue if you are injured due to someone’s negligence. Also, you can be sued for any damage you cause to a person or property with a snowball or otherwise. The elements of negligence are always the same, regardless of how injury occurs. So before the eggnog flows and you traipse out into the snow, let’s look at negligence in a nutshell. Negligence Explained To succeed in a negligence suit, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused a harm for which there are compensable damages. In the context of a snowball fight, you assume some risk of injury, so it may be challenging to prove a suit. Still, you can do it. A friend can be negligent. Say, your friend packs a rock in a snowball and hits you in the head, causing brain damage. You thought you’d be tossing soft puffs that disintegrate in a shower of flakes, not lobbing deadly projectiles. In that case, you can certainly make a negligence claim and expect to be awarded compensation for expenses associated with your injuries. Similarly, if you hit a person or property, you can be liable for injury. A plaintiff who can show duty, breach, causation, and harm will succeed in a negligence claim, whether or not they have agreed to join the fun. A Snowball’s Chance in Hell Snowball lawsuits have been filed before but make sure you can back a claim if you do sue. In 2010, a snowball fight after a Seattle Seahawks game became the subject of a suit. The plaintiff claimed emotional distress about the flakey fracas. But there was footage showing everyone having a good time. Speak to a Lawyer If you are injured in the snow this winter, see a doctor and speak to a lawyer. You may have a negligence claim. Let a lawyer assess your case; many attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Negligence Background (FindLaw) Defenses to Negligence Claims (FindLaw)
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Businessman’s $21 Million Brain Injury Verdict Threatened

A man who successfully sued a cruise line for a head injury may not see his $21 million in damages after all. The man’s former assistant has revealed that she lied about his brain injury for him before the trial and was then fired right before the case was going to be heard, reports The Seattle Times. James Hausman won $5 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages for an injury he sustained due to a faulty sliding glass door on a Holland America cruise ship. The company, having learned from Hausman’s former assistant that he deleted emails, tampered with witnesses, and exaggerated the severity of his injury, is seeking to have the jury verdict overturned. Lying Now or Before Amy Mizeur, who served as Hausman’s personal assistant until just before the case went to trial, testified at a hearing in federal court in Seattle that her former employer ordered her to lie about injuries. She said she enrolled him for a brain-injury study although she knew he was faking seizures. Mizeur even admitted to documenting fake seizures in emails written to others, saying, “It was a show. I never saw him struggle.” The former assistant turned to Holland America after the trial was over and after she was fired, letting the insurer know that she had helped her former employer falsify evidence. But Hausman’s lawyer pointed out that she could hardly be trusted. After all, Meizer either lied after the trial or before, so she was not a reliable witness. What’s at Stake? The unanimous verdict in Hausman’s personal injury lawsuit was among the largest in recent memory in Seattle federal court. In addition to the punitive damages, Hausman, 61, was awarded $5 million for past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress. Now all of that is at risk as a court determines whether to dismiss the case or grant a new trial. Injured? If you have been genuinely injured in any setting — be it on a cruise ship or elsewhere — speak to a lawyer. Consulting with counsel costs nothing. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Brain Injury Symptims and Diagnosis (FindLaw) Brain Injury Lawsuit FAQs (FindLaw)
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Can You Sue for Being Stuck in an Elevator?

What’s your worst nightmare? Mine is getting stuck in an elevator. There’s a slight twinge of fear every time I step in an elevator. The fear grows when more than three people enter it with me. When the doors don’t open right away when the elevator reaches my level, the fear turns into momentary panic. Don’t laugh. Getting stuck or injured in an elevator is not as rare as you would think! If you ever get stuck in an elevator, can you sue? Elevator Malfunctions and Injuries While elevator accident aren’t as common as car accidents, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that as many 30 people are killed and 17,000 injured in elevator accidents every year. In 1999, Nicholas White was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours before he was rescued. In 2003, Dr. Hitoshi Nikaidoh was killed and decapitated when an elevator’s doors trapped him, and the elevator began to rise with him half in and half out of the elevator. Karin Steinau was already in the elevator when Dr. Nikaidoh was killed. When the elevator finally stopped halfway between floors, Steinau was stuck in the elevator with Dr. Nikaidoh’s decapitated head for over an hour! Unsurprisingly, all three people I just mentioned sued. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress In many elevator lawsuits, the elevator manufacturer, the elevator maintenance company, or the building owner may all be sued for negligent infliction of emotional distress. To win such a claim, victims will have to show: Duty — The defendant owed some kind of duty, usually the duty to maintain, to the victim. Breach — The defendant failed to do his duty. Usually, this means the manufacturer created a dangerous and unsafe elevator, or the maintenance company failed to make necessary repairs. Causation — The elevator’s malfunction caused the victim’s injuries. Damages — The victim suffered harm, such as mental distress, and damages. Usually, the question of damages is the hardest to prove. To get damages for emotional distress, courts often require the distress to be connected to or manifested as some kind of physical injury. So, unless you suffered an injury such as a broken bone when the elevator dropped abruptly, or an ulcer caused by stress and fear, you may not be able to win any compensation. If you’re ever injured after being stuck in an elevator, consult an experienced personal injury attorney for help. But, better yet, avoid the issue altogether and take the stairs. It’s healthier and less scary. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (FindLaw’s Learn About The Law) Do You Have Privacy Rights in an Elevator? (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life) NYC Elevator Accident Witness to Sue for Trauma (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Iraq Vet to Get $4.5M for Occupy Oakland Shooting

An Iraq vet whose skull was fractured by a projectile shot by police during an Occupy Oakland protest has agreed to receive $4.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit with the city of Oakland. During the protest, 26-year-old Scott Olsen was hit in the head by a beanbag round fired by a police officer standing less than 30 feet away from him, The Associated Press reports. The large settlement amount stems from a variety of factors, including the nature and severity of Olsen's injuries and the negligent training of the officers. Why Not Go to Trial? Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker said that a jury might have awarded Olsen more money if the case had gone to trial. So why didn't Olsen and his attorney go to trial? People opt to settle cases before trial for a variety of reasons. In this case, it seems a settlement was more preferable because the litigation was taking a toll on Olsen. As he said, "It's been very a very difficult two and a half years for me, everything from being in the hospital, to relearning how to talk to dealing with a lawsuit, that's been a lot of stress." Trials are tough on people. The litigation process can be long and exhausting. Even though going to trial might have secured Olsen a larger damages award, he and his attorney were likely keen on reaching a quicker resolution so that he could move on and focus on his health. Why $4.5M Settlement? Because of the beanbag shooting, Olsen suffered permanent brain injuries and has not been able to return to his career as a computer systems administrator. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, the AP reports. The damages stemming from Olsen's injuries played a central role in the large settlement award. They included economic damages -- such as lost wages and past, present, and future medical costs -- as well as noneconomic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering. Another major factor in the settlement was the police officers' use of excessive force. An independent study in June 2012 reported that police were ill-equipped to handle the Occupy Oakland protest because of inadequate staffing as well as poor planning and training, according to The AP. The tragic injury will affect Olsen for the rest of his life, but the $4.5 million award is designed to help ease the financial burden of his arduous road to recovery. Related Resources: Oakland to pay Iraq War vet $4.5 million for Occupy shooting (Oakland Tribune) Can Occupy Oakland Vet Sue Police for Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) 2 Occupy Protestors File Excessive Force Suit (FindLaw's Injured) UC Davis Pepper Spray Suit Settled for $1M (FindLaw's Injured)
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Truck Accident Damages: How Much Can You Collect?

People often wonder how much they can get in truck accident damages. Every case is different, so there is no "one size fits all" approach to calculating damages in truck accident cases. To determine your specific damages award, courts will examine a variety of factors. Here are seven factors that can potentially shape the amount you can collect in a truck accident case: Medical bills. Arguably the most important of award considerations, a court will take into account bills and expenses for medical services such as doctors, hospital stays, emergency room treatment, ambulance fees, physical therapy, accessories (such as crutches), and in-home services. A plaintiff must show that the expenses resulted from his or her truck accident injury. Property damage. A court may factor in the extent of damage caused to your car and other property. Keep in mind that you will often need photographs or other types of evidence to prove of the extent of damage to your vehicle. Lost wages. These damages represent the amount of money a plaintiff would have earned from the time of the injury to the date of settlement or judgment. The court might also consider lost future earning capacity from the injury, depending on age, occupation, and other factors. Pain and suffering. In some cases, a court will award damages for past, present, and future physical pain in connection with an accident or injury. To place a monetary value on pain and suffering, a court considers a variety of factors. Emotional distress. A court might consider emotional distress associated with a truck accident or injury, depending on many factors, including intensity, duration, related bodily harm, and underlying cause. Punitive damages. In particularly egregious cases, you may also be able to seek punitive damages, which are meant to punish a malicious defendant. Comparative/contributory negligence laws. The degree of your own fault can impact how much you collect in truck accident damages. Many states' comparative and contributory negligence laws can reduce or even bar damage awards depending on how much you are at fault. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine how much your specific case is worth under your local laws, after performing a careful analysis of the case. Related Resources: Five Things to Research Before Meeting a Truck Accident Attorney (FindLaw) Truck Accident Injuries Up 18%: NHTSA Report (FindLaw's Injured) Dump Truck Hits, Kills Mom Putting Kid in Van (FindLaw's Injured) Proving Fault in a Truck Accident: A Legal Checklist (FindLaw)
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