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Opioid Lawsuits: What You Need to Know

As more and more people fall victim to opioid addiction, more and more lawsuits are being filed. States are suing drug companies, addicts are suing doctors, and the federal government is starting its own investigation into the crisis. But who's liable for opioid addiction? The addict? Doctors? Drug manufacturers? All three? Here's what you need to know about opioid lawsuits and addiction liability. 1. Can I Sue My Doctor for Opiate Addiction? Physicians owe their patients a duty of care, and can be liable for medical malpractice if their prescription of opioids -- either the dosage, the type of drug, or the failure to notice your developing addiction -- constituted a breach of this duty. 2. Can Doctors Be Liable for Patient Overdoses? As noted above, normally patient overdoses are dealt with in a medical malpractice claim, or, unfortunately, in a wrongful death claim. But in rare instances, doctors also have been charged with and convicted of murder in overdose cases. 3. Can You Sue a Drug Company for Opioid Addiction? Successful lawsuits blaming a drug manufacturer for addiction are rare; courts often find addicts liable for their own addiction and the drug companies too far removed from the use to be liable. But that could be changing in the opioid context. 4. Are Drug Companies Liable for Side Effects? Drug companies have a duty to warn of known dangers. So if you're claiming that a drug manufacturer knew how addictive an opioid was and failed to warn either doctors or patients, you may have a better shot at proving the manufacturer's liability. 5. Liability for Drug Overdoses Tragically, some addictions end in overdoses, and many of those can be fatal. Wrongful death lawsuits can look a little different than a standard medical malpractice or product liability claim, so it's important to know how liability may be different as well. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction to opioids, get help now. Then consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Cherokee Nation Sues Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens for Opioid Abuse (FindLaw's Injured) West Virginia Counties Sue Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis (FindLaw's Injured) Ohio Is the Latest State to Sue Over Opioid Crisis (FindLaw's Injured)
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Teen Dies After Gym Teacher Refuses Asthma Inhaler Request

'When a child is in the school district, from the time they get there, the school is responsible for their safety.' So said attorney Jay Dorsey, who is representing the family of a 14-year-old girl who collapsed and died after a gym teacher refused repeated requests to retrieve her inhaler from her locker. The family has filed a federal lawsuit against the county board of education, the high school where it happened, and the unnamed gym teacher, charging them with civil rights violations, wrongful death, gross negligence, and negligence in hiring and supervising employees. Asthma Attack The incident happened in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington's NBC4 first reported on the lawsuit. According to the suit, Taylor Walton began having an asthma attack during gym class in November 2015, and asked the teacher twice to leave class and get her inhaler: A third time, Taylor again approached the John Doe Gym Teacher and stated that she was still having severe problems breathing and that she (was) leaving class to get her inhaler ... Thereafter, Taylor left the gym class. As Taylor was observed leaving the gymnasium, there were no efforts by Defendant Gym Teacher or other members of the gym staff to accompany her to her locker to help her get her inhaler or to secure her safety. Taylor was found by another school employee, collapsed on the steps outside the gym. Efforts to revive her by school staff and emergency responders were unsuccessful. School Board Breach According to the lawsuit, Taylor had suffered a prior asthma attack in the same gym teacher's class before, school officials we aware she suffered from asthma, and were required to distribute an "emergency treatment plan" to her teachers. Taylor's family is seeking $10 million from the Montgomery County Public School district. "The actions or omissions of the Defendant Board and its staff ... breached the duty owed Taylor," the lawsuit alleges. "Each individual breach by the Board and staff, or in concert with each other, was a substantial factor in proximately causing injury and then death of Taylor." Related Resources: Find Wrongful Death Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) When Are Schools Liable for Student Injuries? (FindLaw's Injured) How Do You Sue a School District? (FindLaw's Injured) Max Gilpin School Football Death Suit Settles (FindLaw's Injured)
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Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Affect My Immigration Status?

Immigration is a complicated and nuanced area of the law. Many different factors can have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. Possibly the most feared factors are criminal convictions. A criminal conviction can result in deportation and other consequences when it comes to a person's immigration status. Fortunately, not all criminal convictions will have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. But, whether or not a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony is actually less significant when it comes to immigration status than the type of crime a person is convicted of. Serious Crimes and Aggravated Felonies Generally, serious crimes, like murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking, conspiracy, and others, will be grounds for deportation. However, starting in 1988, congress created a list of "aggravated felonies" which also can be grounds for deportation, and has expanded that list over time. It is worth noting that the list of aggravated felonies includes many crimes that are typically only charged as misdemeanors. The list initially only included serious offenses that one might expect to be grounds for deportation, but is continually being amended to include more minor violations, such as: Simple battery Theft Filing a fraudulent tax return Failure to appear in court In addition to the above crimes, any crime that is considered a crime of moral turpitude can also have grave impacts on a person's immigration status. Crimes of Moral Turpitude Crimes of moral turpitude generally include acts that infer a person has breached another person's or the public's trust. These can include both felonies and misdemeanors. While crimes like fraud, embezzlement, perjury, child abuse, and tax evasion are easy to understand as crimes where trust has been broken, small crimes like petty theft or shoplifting, which are typically misdemeanors, can also be considered as such. If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, or an aggravated felony, they may not only be deported, but they may be ineligible to return to U.S. forever. Therefore, it is incredibly important for any non-citizen facing criminal charges to not only consult a criminal attorney and inform them of their immigration status, but to also consult an experienced immigration attorney, especially before agreeing to any plea bargain. Related Resources: Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How to Fight Wrongful Deportation (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can ICE Agents Make Arrests at Courthouses? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can This New Chatbot Solve Refugee Legal Issues? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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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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How Do You Prove Soft Tissue Injury?

This is another in our series on car accident claims. So many of us experience an accident, but do we really know what do to, how to get help, or what our rights are? This series can help. Soft tissue injuries are like feelings — they’re real and they hurt but they can be invisible and not everyone believes in them. For these reasons, proving this kind of injury can be difficult, or more difficult than a more obvious type of harm, like a broken leg. Still, people do recover legal remedies for soft tissue injuries every day, so it is not at all impossible to get compensation for your damages after an accident. Let’s look at proving negligence in the context of this type of claim. Soft Tissue Injury Soft tissue injury refers to damage to soft areas of the body, like ligaments, muscles, and tendons. A hard tissue injury, by contrast, refers to a broken bone or damage to a hard area of the body. While a soft tissue injury can seem less traumatic on the surface — who wouldn’t prefer a strain to a break? — this kind of harm can last a long time and cause discomfort and make everyday duties difficult. Sprains, strains, and contusions in soft tissue do not always manifest immediately after an accident but the pain can last for years, which is why people seek to recover damages for their invisible injuries. Proving Negligence In brief, negligence is proven by showing that a person who owed you a duty of care fell below the standard required and breached that duty. If this breach is the cause of your injury and you suffer compensable damages, then you can recover for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. But how do you prove you are truly sore if your injury is invisible? You will need to show medical records, evidence of having sought treatment and received a diagnosis. You can also support the claim with testimony, or affidavits. You may ask people who know you to speak about your limited mobility since the accident. You may also seek expert testimony to support your claim and explain to jurors the significance of your injury. A medical expert may testify about soft tissue injuries at trial, so that the jury better understands the harm in the way the medical community does. Although proving soft tissue injury may be more difficult than proving a broken leg, these types of claims are very common after car accidents. The force a vehicle exerts during a crash can cause a lot of damage to the human body, some of which may not register immediately. Whiplash The most common soft tissue injury is whiplash, officially known as cervical strain or sprain, or hyper-extension injury. As the official names indicate, whiplash happens when the body is strained or overextended in some way, causing damage. Whiplash is interesting because it illustrates the mysterious nature of soft tissue injury, and how dangerous this damage can be. Sometimes whiplash isn’t felt immediately after the accident but over time can manifest in stiffness, neck pain, back problems, and most alarmingly, cognitive issues. Injured? If you have been in a car accident and experienced an injury of any kind, speak to a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Injured in a car accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Types of Brain Injury (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law) Can I Get Compensation for Whiplash? (FindLaw’s Injured) Types of Car Accident Injuries (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
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Repo Gone Wrong Ends in Manslaughter Charges

Would you die to save your car from a repo agent? That is what happened this week when a woman in Pleasant Grove, Utah crashed her vehicle during a high speed chase — she was trying to get away from a man who came to her door to repossess the vehicle. Now Ashleigh Best, 35, is dead, and Kenneth Drew, 49, is in jail on manslaughter charges. He denies driving Best to her death, reports the Daily Mail. Let’s consider this tragic accident and the legal limits on repossession. Mother Under Pressure Ashleigh Best was under pressure. It seems life in Pleasant Grove was not all pleasant. The mother of three was living with her husband and family at her parents’ house in order to get their finances together. When Kenneth Drew came knocking on the door to repossess the car, her husband begged Drew to wait and let him call the bank. The repo man reportedly said no and Ashleigh Best drove off in the car, hoping to save it from him. Drew gave chase, though the repo man denies he drove at high speeds, and Best crashed her car into a tree. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The company Drew works for, On Demand Repo, stated that its policy is not to chase people. As for their agent, they said Drew didn’t have a mean bone in his body and asked that people wait until the investigation concludes before deciding what happened. Pleasant Grove Police Lieutenant Britt Smith, however, told reporters, “I’ve never, in my 15 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen a repo agent be this aggressive. I’ve never seen anything like it. It doesn’t justify chasing her down through the roads, city streets, at high rates of speeds, causing fatal traffic accidents. The end doesn’t justify the means.” Repossession Rules Smith’s statement raises the question — just how aggressive can a repo agent be? The rules for repossession depend on state statutes and these vary in the details. Some states require agents to notify police of any actions they will take. Others outline specific methods of approach. No state permits a breach of the peace. There are limitations on agents and that they cannot break the law in order to repossess property. Still, On Demand Repo also makes an important point, and one which is the cornerstone of criminal law. Kenneth Drew is accused of manslaughter, but he has not been proven guilty of causing the fatal accident. For now at least, he is innocent. Accused? If you are accused of a crime, don’t delay in getting legal advice. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk about your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw’s Lawyer Directory) The Rich Aren’t That Different: They Have Repo Men Too (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) 3 Potential Ways to Sue a Repo Agent (FindLaw’s Injured) How to Get a Repossessed Car Back (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
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Types of Witnesses Involved in Personal Injury Cases

Personal injury cases are complex and can involve both expert and lay witnesses. These people will help to prove your case and corroborate your claims. Depending on the details of your case and the specifics of your claim, you may have a few or many witnesses, just laypeople or only experts, or both. Let's look at how the different types of witnesses help you prove a case. Lay Witnesses Negligence cases are proven by showing that someone who owed you a duty of care breached that duty and caused your injury, resulting in compensable damages. That means you as the plaintiff must establish what happened. One way you do that is by gathering evidence from anyone who was at the scene of the incident in question. Lay witnesses are people who have no particular expertise associated with the claim other than the fact they saw something relevant, whether at the scene of the incident or with respect to your injury and treatment. There are two types of lay witnesses that you might employ in a negligence case -- witnesses who saw what happened can testify about the accident and those who know you personally and observed you while injured can discuss that. The testimony of these two types of witnesses provides added support to the things you say. Expert Witnesses There are different types of expert witnesses, too. Depending on the type of case, you may need an expert to talk about engineering, or medicine, or the climate, or soil erosion or pretty much any other complex topic that is implicated in the case. Courts must certify a witness as an expert and who qualifies, as well as the procedure, is dictated by the rules of evidence. Most often, although not exclusively, the experts called upon in negligence cases are doctors, and they testify about the extent of injury, the appropriate treatment now and in the future, and more. Expert witnesses can be quite expensive, charging not only to compile reports that support your claim but also to come in to court and testify in person. But that doesn't mean you don't need them. Talk to a Lawyer If you were injured speak to a lawyer. Tell your story and let counsel worry about what witnesses to call and even how to pay them. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your situation, and many also take cases on contingency which means you will only pay legal fees if you recover damages. Get help. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) What Is a Subpoena? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) In the Courtroom: Who Does What? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Do's and Don'ts -- Being a Witness (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Happens at Trial? (FindLaw's Learn About
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Tips for Defending Against a Frivolous Injury Lawsuit

You have been served with an injury lawsuit and from your point of view, it is a frivolous claim. But you still have to defend yourself. So how do you do that? Let’s take a quick look at negligence and how you defend it by negating the elements of the claim. Negligence, in Brief The elements of negligence are duty, breach, causation and harm (or injury). To defend against a claim of personal injury, you will have to negate an element of negligence. In brief, the plaintiff will argue that you owed them a duty of care, that you breached that duty, and that the breach caused a harm or injury which is compensable. Damages are only awarded if all of that can be shown. For the defendant, only one element must be disproven to defeat the case. How to Negate the Elements of the Frivolous Claim You need not negate every element and some might be impossible to disprove. Duty of care, for example, may be difficult to disapprove as the duty arises from a relationship — personal, professional, service, or other — and is likely the basis for your being named in the claim. Still, you might argue that you owed the plaintiff no duty of care. Whether that is plausible depends on the details of the case. If the person injured had only the most tangential relationship to you, perhaps you owed them no duty. A more likely argument is that you did not breach the duty of care. Even if you were in some sort of relationship with the plaintiff, you can still argue that you behaved as a reasonable person would under same or similar circumstances. In other words, you owed a duty and did not breach it. If you can show no breach, you have already succeeded — you cannot be held liable for an injury if you behaved as a reasonable person would under same or similar circumstances. The same principles apply to causation and harm. The plaintiff argues you caused the harm. You try to show that there were intervening causes that were not foreseeable or that you just did not cause it at all. Finally, you might argue that there was no injury or that the injury is not as severe as the plaintiff argues and that the damages sought far exceed actual harm. Talk to a Lawyer There is really no way around this. You need a lawyer. Although the injury claim may seem frivolous to you, lawsuits involve a lot of paperwork and deadlines and administration. You do not want to defend yourself alone and you should not try. If paying for defense counsel seems prohibitive, just contemplate paying damages. Plaintiffs Too The same advice goes for plaintiffs. You need representation. If you have been injured, consult with a personal injury attorney who will assess your claim for free. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) Meeting With an Injury Attorney (FindLaw) Fact Finding and Discovery (Findlaw)
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