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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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Fair Housing Act Protects LGBT Couples

The Fair Housing Act, passed as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, protects renters and home buyers from a variety of discrimination based on everything from sex, race, and national origin to religion, marriage status, and pregnancy. But until Wednesday of this week, no court had extended those protections to include lesbian, gay, or transgender people. That all changed when a federal court in Denver ruled that sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act includes discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, including discrimination motivated by outdated stereotypes about how men and women should act and with whom they should romantically partner. Judicial Protection Rachel Smith, a transgender woman, and her wife Tonya Smith attempted to rent a townhouse for themselves and their two children in Boulder, Colorado, but were denied, according to their lawsuit, because the landlord did not approve of their "unique relationship." In a ruling their lawyer believes is the first of its kind, the court found that LGBT renters are protected from such discrimination under federal law. "This is the first case under the Fair Housing Act dealing with gender identity where there's been liability found for discrimination based on stereotypes," Omar Gonzalez-Pagan told the Washington Post. "It demonstrates the importance of bringing these cases. Housing discrimination is a significant unreported problem" for LGBT people. Judicial Reasoning The district court's ruling mirrored one issued a day earlier by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. There, the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both courts found that sexual stereotyping is a form of sex discrimination, and therefore illegal under federal statutes that bar discrimination based on "sex." In doing so, the courts relied on a 1989 Supreme Court case holding that male partners and managers discriminated against a female employee when they said she needed to "walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, wear make-up, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry" in order to advance. In the Smith's case, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore wrote, "Such stereotypical norms are no different from other stereotypes associated with women, such as the way she should dress or act (e.g., that a woman should not be overly aggressive, or should not act macho), and are products of sex stereotyping." Such sexual stereotyping is illegal under federal law, and therefore the landlord's refusal to rent to the Smith's based on their relationship violated the Fair Housing Act. Related Resources: Find Landlord-Tenant Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Can Landlords Discriminate Against Unmarried Couples? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Housing Discrimination for LGBT Couples (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Understanding Your Rights: Housing Discrimination (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Can You Sue a Gym for Faulty Equipment?

Americans love the gym. Whether we miss the activity and exercise from recess and gym class in school or we're wistful for the waistline from our younger days, millions of us are spending millions of hours in the gym and millions of dollars on gym memberships. And we expect that gyms will show the same dedication to their equipment -- buying the best and maintaining equipment in the best condition. But what happens when that doesn't happen? Are gyms liable for injuries caused by faulty equipment? Waive Goodbye? Like any other business, gyms have a duty to keep their patrons safe. But, when it comes to lawsuits regarding a gym's equipment, that liability can be complicated by a couple of factors. The first hurdle to a lawsuit may be a liability waiver, if you signed one. Many, if not all gyms require members to waive injury liability, and whether that waiver will prevent you from filing an injury lawsuit will depend on the terms of the agreement. Some liability waivers only bar lawsuits based on gym or employee negligence, and are generally upheld in court. Other waivers attempt to provide total immunity for gyms, but can be found unenforceable if they're too broad. A gym's waiver may attempt to limit liability for equipment-related injuries, but may not cover instances where the gym failed to maintain the equipment properly, or knew the equipment was faulty and failed to fix it. Gym Defects Certain equipment, like treadmills, can be inherently dangerous. And some equipment may have been designed or manufactured poorly or lack adequate warnings regarding its proper use. Gym equipment manufacturers have a duty to ensure their products are safe, and may be strictly liable if a person is injured using on their product. Product liability claims against gym equipment manufacturers can be based on: Defects in Design: The gym equipment's design is flawed making it unreasonably dangerous to users; Defects in Manufacturing: The equipment was improperly manufactured, dangerously departing from the intended design; or Defects in Warnings: The equipment lacks adequate instructions or warnings, rendering the product unreasonably dangerous. While equipment manufacturers can be liable for defects in their products, gyms may also be liable if they knew the equipment was dangerous and did not fix or remove it. If you've been injured at the gym and think a faulty piece of equipment was to blame, contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Top 5 Legal Tips for Gym Injuries (FindLaw's Injured) Treadmill Accident Leads to Brain Injury Lawsuit (FindLaw's Injured) Gym-aholics Be Warned: LA Fitness Wins Injury Lawsuit With Liability Waiver (FindLaw's Injured)
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Federal Court: Civil Rights Act Protects Gay, Lesbian Workers From Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Because it was enacted in 1964, many have wondered whether gay and lesbian workers were also protected under the law. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question this week, ruling that Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The court reasoned that the statute's ban on sex discrimination also prohibited sexual orientation discrimination because, among other reasons, the discrimination is based on outdated gender stereotypes. Here's a look: Stereotypical Discrimination The plaintiff in the case, Kimberly Hively, contends that she was passed over for full-time employment at Ivy Tech Community College because she is lesbian. Her central claim, as it pertains to Title VII, is that this discrimination was based on her sex or gender -- that, had she been a man, she would not have been discriminated against for being sexually attracted to women. And the majority found it persuasive: Viewed through the lens of the gender non-conformity line of cases, Hively represents the ultimate case of failure to conform to the female stereotype (at least as understood in a place such as modern America, which views heterosexuality as the norm and other forms of sexuality as exceptional): she is not heterosexual ... Hively's claim is no different from the claims brought by women who were rejected for jobs in traditionally male workplaces, such as fire departments, construction, and policing. The employers in those cases were policing the boundaries of what jobs or behaviors they found acceptable for a woman (or in some cases, for a man). Essentially, Hivey was still discriminated against based on her sex in that she did not conform to stereotypes about female sexual orientation. A Definitive Decision? The court's decision is groundbreaking. Until now, the majority of courts interpreting Title VII have held that it did not cover discrimination based solely on sexual orientation. While the Second Circuit found that sexual-orientation discrimination wasn't explicitly prohibited by Title VII, it recently found that gay workers who were subject to gender stereotyping still had the right bring sex discrimination claims. The Supreme Court has yet to decide the issue, but may need to soon, giving the disagreement between circuits. For now, the Seventh Circuit's ruling applies only to its own jurisdiction: Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Related Resources: Find Employment Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Seventh Circuit Holds That Title VII Forbids Anti-Gay Job Discrimination (The Washington Post) LGBT Worker Protections Missing in Mississippi and Most States (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Signs of Employment Discrimination (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Top Legal Questions About the President’s Power

There were certainly questions about presidential power during Barack Obama's presidency, especially when it came to Obamacare and his executive actions on gun control. But those questions have reached a fever pitch under President Donald Trump, as he has attempted to remake the presidency in his own image. So what are the limits on the president's power, if any? 1. Can President Trump Change the Constitution? As a candidate, Trump proposed quite a few constitutional amendments. Now that he's president, can he make them happen? Even though a president can't unilaterally change the text of the Constitution, he can direct executive agencies in their interpretation and enforcement of its provisions. 2. What Power Does the President Have Over Deportation Policy? There are reports of immigration officials pulling undocumented persons out of hospitals. Is this a new practice? And how much impact can President Trump have on choosing who to deport and why? 3. Can the President Really Curb Speech of Federal Agencies? Trump's White House issued directives to several federal agencies, looking to limit public statements and social media posts regarding matters that the previous administration supported. But do those orders violate federal employees' First Amendment rights? 4. Ethics Rules for White House Employees There are strict ethics rules regulating what government officials should do when they have a personal financial interest in a certain business or industry, generally requiring the official to disclose their interest and recuse themselves from work where there could be a conflict of interest. But the Trump administration appears to be playing fast and loose with those rules. 5. Can Trump Cancel the Iran Deal? Previous President Barack Obama's administration brokered a historic nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015, an accord current President Donald Trump has called "the stupidest deal of all time." Does that mean the current administration can back out of the deal? Related Resources: Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Trump's First Week as President (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do Restrictions on Protests Violate the Constitution? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Trump's New Travel Ban Blocked Like the Old Travel Ban (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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NY Brain Surgeon Faces Three Malpractice Lawsuits

One of the leading brain surgeons that co-founded the North Shore University Hospital’s Chiari Institute is facing three malpractice lawsuits over surgeries to correct Chiari malformations. The suits all allege that Dr. Bolognese improperly or needlessly performed a surgery to correct a Chiari malformation in each of the three separate plaintiffs. The Chiari malformation is a rare condition where part of the brain forms under the brainstem where it connects with the neck and spinal cord. The effects of a Chiara malformation are varied from no symptoms at all, to severe. Currently the only treatment is surgery. History of Getting Sued Dr. Bolognese has seen quite a bit of trouble. According to one source, though the doctor was not out of operating room for long, he was suspended back in 2010 for failing to show up for a surgery. Also, he has faced approximately 20 medical malpractice lawsuits. In addition to the malpractice lawsuits, a former employee who sued her hospital for sexual harassment, described some very strange behavior by Dr. Bolongese during surgery, including disappearing mid surgery and openly using expletives when frustrated. A Surgeon’s Malpractice Liability Surgeons, like any other doctor, can commit medical malpractice. Discovering surgical malpractice is difficult however as frequently patients are under anesthetic and therefore unaware while the surgeon is working. If it is something obvious, like the surgeon operated on the wrong body part or patient, this will be easily discovered. However, if a surgical sponge or other implement was left behind, or the surgery was unnecessary, or some other avoidable mistake occurred, discovering the problem is the first step and may require expert medical assistance. Once the mistake or problem is discovered, it must be determined, generally by more medical or surgical experts, whether the surgeon in your case fell below the standard of care. This means that a surgery that doesn’t work isn’t necessarily grounds for a malpractice suit. It only will be grounds for a lawsuit if the doctor made a mistake that made the level care provided fall below the standard of care that should have been provided. Related Resources: Injured my medical malpractice? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) When to Sue a Chiropractor for Injury (FindLaw’s Injured) 5 Controversial Medical Treatments Still Used Today (FindLaw’s Injured) When to Sue a Pediatrician for Malpractice (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Timeline for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

If your first thought after a work injury isn't, "When can I get back to work," it's probably, "When can I get paid for getting injured at work." Missing work is tough, especially if you're missing paychecks, too. If you got injured on the job, you probably know you can file a workers' compensation insurance claim. But how long is that going to take? While all cases are unique, here's a quick look at what to expect from your workers' comp claim. Your Steps The timeline for your workers' compensation claim begins at your injury, and there are some steps you'll want to take immediately to ensure your claim is reviewed and completed as quickly as possible. First, take care of yourself and seek any necessary medical attention, even if you're worried you can't afford it. Most states require employers or their insurance company to pay for an injured employee's medical bills as soon as they file a claim. So you do not have to wait until your claim is approved to receive compensation for medical costs. Second, report the injury to your employer, and, if possible, report the injury in writing and keep a copy of the report for personal records. Your employer is then required to offer you a claim form immediately. Make sure the claim form is filled out completely and specifically and that you file it as soon as possible. You should also keep a copy of your completed claim form for your records as well. Employer and Insurer Steps Once your employer receives your claim form, it is their responsibility to immediately notify their insurance company and arrange medical assistance and compensation for you. Your employer may also be required to complete and file a wage verification form with the insurer within a certain amount of time after your claim or compensation form. After receiving your claim, the insurer generally has 30 days to either accept or deny your claim and notify you of its decision. (Be aware this time limit can vary by state.) If your claim is approved, the insurer must start paying out benefits soon after. If your claim is denied, you can request a hearing to review the decision. There is a time limit on the request for a hearing, normally around 60 days after you received notice of denial. A hearing date will then be set, usually within 30 days of your request. After the hearing, the hearing officer normally has 15 days to make a final decision. If you need help filing a workers' comp claim, or if your claim has been denied, you may want to contact a local workers' comp attorney for advice. Related Resources: Hurt on the job? Have your injury claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) How Long Do I Have to Be Employed to Get Workers' Comp? (FindLaw's Injured) How Long Will Workers' Compensation Benefits Last? (FindLaw's Injured) When Is It Too Late to Sue for Injury? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Top 5 Travel Injury Legal Issues

It’s almost summertime, so time to hit the road, see the sights, and travel the high seas. But with travels come trouble sometimes, accidents and injuries, which could be costly. Here is some advice for travelers, whatever your mode of transport, be it trains, planes, automobiles, boats, or a combo. Find out how to handle travel accident recovery. Travel Accident Recovery 1. Injured on an Airplane: How Can You Recover? You probably don’t realize just how treacherous being on a plane is, and that is apart from the hazard of hurtling through the skies. Injuries on airplanes can happen due to fallen luggage from overhead compartments, turbulence, airline employee error and more. Airlines owe passengers a high duty of care and passengers do recover when they are proven negligent. 2. Injured in a Bus Crash: How Much Is My Case Worth? It is never a good idea to guess at what a case is worth without knowing all the details, and even then it’s probably best not to assume. But bus crash injuries can be severe and you can certainly sue if you are hurt while traveling on this type of common carrier. 3. Can I Sue for a Railroad Crossing Accident? If you’re on a train that crashes or are injured in some way while traveling Orient Express style, you can certainly sue to recover for your expenses and pain and suffering. As for drivers injured in a railroad crossing accident, that too is an unfortunately common occurrence and a basis for recovery. 4. Cruise Ship Injury: Can I Sue? Traveling on a cruise ship combines the fun of staying at a hotel with the thrill of being on the high seas and a dash of the old-fashioned. But cruise ships are also a prime place to get injured — not only are there activities of all kinds but there’s the risk of accidents in restaurants, on decks, and with the movement of the ship itself. If your vacation ends in a sea of sorrows due to the negligence of the cruise ship company, you can sue. 5. Road Trip Safety Tips: How to Not Get Injured The most American vacation of them all is the road trip, a journey great artists have paid tribute to in books, film, music, and more. But before you hit the road, know the score on staying safe. Traveling in a car for long hours can be dangerous. Talk to a Lawyer If you are injured during your travels or at any other time and you believe it is due to the negligence of another, speak to a lawyer. Tell your story. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Cruise Ship Sickness: Can Passengers Sue? (FindLaw’s Injured) Cruise Ship Injuries: What Are Your Rights? (FindLaw’s Injured) Top Ten Road Trip Legal Tips (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
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Top 5 Theme Park Injury Concerns

School is almost out; summer is almost in, and family vacations are right around the corner. For millions of us, that means a trip to Disney World, Sea World, or any of the other theme park worlds nationwide. While a trip to an amusement park is undoubtedly fun, they're not always the safest place on earth. So what happens if you're injured during your Wally World adventure? Here are some common questions and concerns regarding theme park injuries. 1. 5 Personal Injury Lessons From Disney Lawsuits The Happiest Place on Earth is also one of the most litigious places on earth. Any time your open for as long and Disneyland and Disney World and have as many customers, you're bound to see a lawsuit or a few hundred of them. And here's what you can learn from those injury lawsuits filed against Disney. 2. Who's Liable for Waterpark Injuries? There may only be two Disney locations, but there are over 1,000 water parks from coast-to-coast that make cooling off from global warming a fun family affair. Generally, theme parks are responsible for the safety of their rides and attractions, but there are some extra concerns when it comes to patron safety in water parks. 3. Will SeaWorld Death End Killer Whale Shows? While the latest controversy about SeaWorld's killer whale shows came from concern of the wellbeing of the whales, there have also been injuries and deaths to trainers too. Just like parks have a responsibility for customer safety, they are responsible for their employees' safety as well. And workers' compensation claims against theme parks are commonplace. 4. Theme-Park Suits Rarely See Courtrooms Most theme parks want to avoid the negative publicity associated with a personal injury lawsuit, and will do their best to settle the case before it ever goes to trial. Additionally, many parks have customers sign a liability waiver in an attempt to absolve them from legal responsibility. While these waivers can deter some lawsuits, they are not always enforceable. 5. 5 Ways to Sue Over Theme Park Injuries Despite a theme park's best intentions to avoid customer injuries, they do happen. And despite a theme park's best efforts to avoid litigation, there are ways to sue a theme park if you are injured at one. The best way to know whether you have a case against a theme park is to ask an experienced personal injury attorney. Many offer free consultations, so contact one in your area today. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Six Flags Death: Woman Falls From Coaster (FindLaw's Injured) NY Six Flags Sued Over Norovirus Outbreak (FindLaw's Injured) 'Brain-Eating' Amoeba Scare Closes Water Park (FindLaw's Injured)
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California’s Gender Neutral Bathroom Bill

While some states have been suing the federal government for the right to discriminate against transgender people when it comes to bathroom access, California is going in the other direction. The same state that led the way on transgender student access to bathrooms in schools just passed a bill requiring all public, single-occupancy bathrooms in the state be gender neutral. The new law would allow anyone to access these bathrooms, regardless of gender identity. So will the Golden State's take on transgender bathroom access be the norm, or remain an outlier? Equal Rights, Equal Access California already has laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people, including restroom access. That law allows a person to access common bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The new bill would take the law further, barring single-use restrooms in businesses, government buildings, and public places from being reserved for either gender. (Proponents of the law also point out that gender neutral bathrooms will reduce wait times, since anyone can now use bathrooms that were previously reserved for either more or women.) But the bill hasn't become law quite yet. While the measure passed California's House on a 55-19 margin, it must still get through the State Senate and governor. And no date has been set for either consideration. California in Context Transgender bathroom access has become a hot-button issue in recent years, with some states expanding access and others pushing back. Most infamously, North Carolina recently passed a law prohibiting people from using bathrooms with gender designations different from those on their birth certificates. But the federal government, who has the last word on civil rights issues, has been fighting discrimination against transgender people. The Department of Justice responded swiftly to the North Carolina law, filing a discrimination lawsuit against state officials in an effort to block the law. And the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently advised business to allow bathroom access to employees based on their chosen gender identity. If California's history holds, the gender neutral bathroom bill will soon become law, and we'll all have an easier time going to the bathroom. If you have questions about bathroom access where you live, you can contact an experienced civil rights attorney near you. Related Resources: Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Transgender 1st Grader Wins Restroom Ruling (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal Rights and Issues for Transgender Children (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Transgender Bathroom Laws in Public Schools: A National Overview (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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