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car accident

Los Angeles Settles Cyclist’s Pothole Injury Lawsuit for $6.5M

Peter Godefroy was riding his bicycle on Valley Vista Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, California two years ago when struck a pothole, crashed his bike, and suffered "severe traumatic brain injury and numerous broken or fractured bones throughout his body." Godefroy sued the City of Los Angeles, claiming poor lighting and even worse maintenance led to a simple pothole becoming a "concealed trap for bicyclists." The L.A. City Council settled that lawsuit last week, voting 11-0 to approve granting Godefroy $6.5 million in damages. It's the second such settlement this year, after the council also awarded $4.5 million to the family of a man killed after he was thrown from his bike when he hit uneven pavement in the city. Bike Suits Bicycle accidents are sadly more common than you would hope. And if you don't have cycling insurance (yes, those policies do exist), you may be wondering about your legal options. In a crash scenario, hopefully the other party -- whether it be a driver in their car, a business-owned vehicle, another cyclist, or even a pedestrian -- will be insured and that will cover your injuries. If not, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to recoup medical bills and lost wages. Most cycling accidents can be treated just like car accidents: exchange insurance information with the other party or parties, document the accident and any injuries as thoroughly as possible, and consider contacting the police if there are serious injuries or property damage. And the work doesn't stop the day after an accident -- make sure to track initial ambulance or hospital bills, additional or ongoing medical expenses, and lost work or wages as well as future income. City Liability It may sound daunting, but you can sue city hall. You may have to file a claim of injury with the city before filing a civil lawsuit to give the city a chance to compensate you or respond to the claim, and you'll have to do so within specific statutes of limitation. If the city fails to respond or denies your claim, you can move on to a full-blown lawsuit. As a general rule, municipalities are responsible for maintaining roadways (including bike lanes and sidewalks) so that they're safe for cyclists, and can be held liable for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on public roadways. If a city or municipal entity fails to exercise reasonable care in keeping the roadways in good repair, they can be found liable for injuries that occur. However, in order to prove a city was negligent in repairing the road, you would also need to prove the city had or should have had notice of the dangerous condition and failed to fix it. If you're considering a bike injury lawsuit against a city, talk to an experienced attorney first. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Severely Injured Cyclist Settles Broken Sidewalk 'Launch Ramp' Case for $4.84M (FindLaw's Injured) San Diego Cyclist Injured by Pothole Gets $235K Settlement From City (FindLaw's Injured) NYPD Accused of 'Hit and Lie' on Cyclist (FindLaw's Injured)
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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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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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How Does SSDI Impact an Injury Lawsuit?

If you are on SSDI and are considering filing a lawsuit or pursuing an injury claim, you may be concerned about how a settlement or court award could impact your receipt of benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program designed to assist disabled individuals that are unable to work by providing those individuals with an income source. While SSDI will want to know if you have received wages, the general rule is that an injury settlement or court award for an injury case are not wages, UNLESS a portion of that award is meant to compensate you specifically for lost wages. Also, it should be noted that if you receive punitive or exemplary damages, or any interest on the award, these may also be concerned as unearned income. Can SSDI Affect Your Settlement? While your SSDI is generally safe from loss as a result of an injury settlement or court award, your settlement or award may be less than you might expect because of your SSDI. Often, injury plaintiffs are disappointed when they find out that their cases are not as highly valued as they expected. Many times, a case’s high value lies in the plaintiff’s status as a high-wage earner. If someone who makes $1,000,000 per year misses one day of work because of the injury, that one day of lost wages could be worth at least $2,700 or more. If that person misses ten days, that can add $27,000 to their case. If you are on SSDI, there will be no wage loss to recover because SSDI covers your wages, and therefore, any settlement may feel a little bit lower than you might have expected. Don’t Confuse SSI With SSDI It is important to not confuse SSI with SSDI. Supplmental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based federal program that provides disabled and elderly individuals with income to supplemental SSDI or regular social security benefits. Any income or monies a person receives can have an impact on a recipient of SSI benefits. It is highly advisable for a recipient of SSI to seek the advice of an attorney regarding how to handle settlement or court award money as SSI benefits can be easily lost if a person receives a lump sum. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) If You Can’t Get Workers’ Comp, Can You Get SSDI? (FindLaw’s Injured) 5 Things a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can’t) (FindLaw’s Injured) Personal Injury Lawyer Dropped Your Case? Now What? (FindLaw’s Injured) When to Sue a Pediatrician for Malpractice (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Driver Liability for Cell Phone Related Car Accident

How an accident happens will largely determine who is ultimately held liable. If the at fault driver was found to have caused the accident while talking or texting, they will likely have more difficulty defending their case, and they may potentially face additional penalties. Nearly every state has laws on distracted driving, and most include some limitations on the use of cell phones by drivers. Regardless of whether you have an ear piece, integrated Bluetooth, or speakerphone system, if you are talking or texting on a cell phone while driving, an officer or other party can claim that you were driving while distracted. According to the most recent report by the NHTSA, one in ten on the road fatalities involved distraction. Accidents While Phoning or Texting If a driver is found to be at fault for an accident, then they can also be found liable for the injuries and property damage they caused. While a majority of auto accident cases settle out of court, the facts concerning how the crash happened are relevant to establishing the injured party's case for damages. When a jury is asked to decide an auto accident injury case, they will usually be tasked with deciding two primary issues:Whether the defendant caused the injuries and damages.How much money should be awarded to the plaintiff for suffering the injuries and damages. In most jurisdictions, if both parties are considered to be partly at fault, or fault is uncertain, the party that is found to be more than 50% at fault, generally is the party held responsible for the damages. If a party was on the phone when the accident occurred, they may be found some percentage (comparatively) at fault. In states like California, if a driver is found to be 25% at fault, any award they receive will be reduced by their percentage of fault. Rear-Ended While Talking on the Phone There are some auto-accident cases where it won't matter if the victim was on the phone or texting. If you are stopped at a red light, and you get rear-ended while texting or talking on the phone, it is highly unlikely that your texting or talking had anything to do with causing the accident. In this sort of a situation, your phone use, while still potentially against the law, generally cannot be used to attack liability. Related Resources: Find Personal Injury Lawyers in Your Area (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What's More Dangerous Than Texting and Driving? (FindLaw's Injured) 1 in 4 Car Crashes Involves Cell Phone Use: Report (FindLaw's Injured) Is Apple Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents? (FindLaw's Injured)
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DUI and Immigration Status

The last thing you want to do if you are applying for citizenship is get a DUI. Even if you're in the country legally on a visa or green card, immigration officials may deport you or downgrade your status on the basis of a criminal conviction, especially for a felony. Here's what you need to know about a how a DUI conviction could affect your immigration status. DUI and Deportation If you are a foreign national, a DUI might not necessarily lead to deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) generally considers a number of factors with regard to the penalties faced by an immigrant to the U.S., and deportation is generally reserved for aggravated felonies like battery, theft, filing a fraudulent tax return, and failure to appear in court. Of course, if your DUI is charged as a felony, you could run the risk of deportation. A DUI could become a felony if you have had prior DUI convictions, had an extremely elevated blood alcohol concentration, had children in the car, were driving on a suspended or revoked license, or caused death or injury in a car accident. Status Update Even if you do not get deported, your immigration status could be altered after a DUI conviction. If you're a legal permanent resident, you could be deported or detained during removal proceedings, or be barred from becoming a naturalized citizen in the future. Refugees and asylees could be deported after a criminal conviction, even if they would be in grave danger in their home country, and a conviction may result in the inability to obtain legal permanent resident status.Non-citizens with temporary lawful status (including individuals with nonimmigrant visas and those with temporary protected status) could lose that status and be removed from the country for any felony conviction or two or more misdemeanor convictions. And because undocumented immigrants are not authorized to be in the U.S., any criminal offense can result in deportation. In some legal proceedings, like immigration or deportation proceedings, even an expungement of a DUI may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction. To know for sure how a DUI will affect your immigration status, contact a local DUI attorney today. Related Resources: Don't face a DUI alone. Get your case reviewed by a lawyer for free now. (Consumer Injury) Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Can a Guilty Plea Affect My Immigration Status? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Which Crimes Can Get Legal Immigrants Deported? (FindLaw Blotter)
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Personal Injury Lawyer Dropped Your Case? Now What?

It happens all too often. A person hires a lawyer right after an accident, then months later when the medical treatment is all done, the lawyer they hired decides they no longer want the case. Don’t read into it too much. Some lawyers only handle cases if they are of a certain value or above. So unless your lawyer has ceased communicating with you, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your case can be smoothly transitioned over to a new attorney. However, if your lawyer has ceased communicating with you, it might be a good idea to get a new lawyer, and have your new lawyer attempt to connect with the old lawyer. On rare occasion, lawyers get sick, die, or just plainly go missing without warning, just like any other human being. The most important thing is to find out your statute of limitations date, because if you don’t file a lawsuit by that date, your claim will expire. 1. Ask Your Old Attorney to Delay Withdrawing Until You Find a New Attorney Attorneys will often recommend that you find a new attorney before they formally withdraw from representation, even when there has been a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship involving anger and animosity. Attorneys are generally agreeable to this arrangement because it will avoid injuring a client’s case. If you are firing your attorney, however, this request will likely not go over well. 2. Figure Out Your Lien Situation Personal injury cases, if handled on a contingency basis (which they typically are), may have lien provisions included in the attorney fee agreement. When an attorney drops your case, if your contract had one of these provisions, you need to get a letter from the attorney clearly stating whether they have a lien, or not, and if so, for how much. A lien is a typical contract term in a contingency fee contract that allows an attorney to place a claim for payment on your case, and requiring that they be paid from any eventual settlement or judgment issued in the case for the work they did on your case. When an attorney drops a case, they usually do not assert a lien, unless they have expended a significant amount of money or time on the case. Even then, some attorneys will release their liens in order to make it easier for a client to retain a new attorney, as a second attorney may be hesitant to take a case that has a lien attached to it. However, any new attorney will likely ask and want to know about liens before formally accepting representation. 3. Find and Hire a New Attorney Don’t delay. The longer you wait to find a new attorney, the less time the new attorney will have to prepare your case. FindLaw has a personal injury lawyer directory that you can browse for free to find an experienced injury attorney in your area. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) 5 Controversial Medical Treatments Still Used Today (FindLaw’s Injured) Chemical Spill in Kansas Hospitalizes Over 100 People (FindLaw’s Injured) Is Apple Liable for Distracted Driving Accidents? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Suing Over Flawed Metal Hips Used in Replacements

After a trial in Texas this year, Johnson and Johnson was ordered to pay $502 million to five plaintiffs injured by the company’s flawed artificial hips. The hips, sold under the name Pinnacle, leached metals into patients’ bodies and failed prematurely, forcing the plaintiffs to undergo additional surgeries and endure more pain. A federal jury was definitely feeling the plaintiffs’ pain, considering that it awarded them $360 million in punitive damages based on Johnson and Johnson hiding flaws in the product and marketing the hips aggressively anyway. Let’s look at the claims, as reported by Bloomberg News, and what this means to you. Second Try This was not the first case complaining of Johnson and Johnson’s metal hip product — there are about 8,000 such cases filed reportedly, now consolidated in Texas federal court for pretrial procedures. But this was the first to succeed, as Johnson and Johnson won a prior trial by arguing that a surgeon had failed to properly place the hip in the patient’s body. In the more recent matter, all five patients had to have their Pinnacle replacement hips replaced surgically after they broke down prematurely due to the materials used and design flaws. The plaintiffs were awarded $142 million in compensable damages, apart from the $360 million in punitive damages, making for a total award of $502 million. But immediately after the jury decided to punish Johnson and Johnson, company attorney John Beisner told Bloomberg News that the company will appeal. He expects the damages award to be reduced substantially. “The grounds for appeal are strong and the punitive damages will be reduced to around $10 million subject to the Texas statutory cap,” he said. What This Means There are thousands of outstanding cases filed against Johnson and Johnson over the Pinnacle metal hip. Interestingly, the company stopped manufacturing the product in 2013 after US Food and Drug Administration regulations were tightened. It’s also notable that Johnson and Johnson already entered into a $2.5 billion settlement in 2010 over claims surrounding another of its artificial hips. Although it is unfortunate that people have suffered due to the company’s flawed devices, Johnson and Johnson’s track record with replacement hips and the outcome of the recent trial indicate that if you have been injured due to a flawed replacement hip, your chances of recovery are very good. Of course, no one can say much about a case in the abstract, so you will have to speak to a lawyer about the specifics. An attorney can assess your claim and advise you on next steps. Talk to a Lawyer If you’ve been injured due to a faulty hip replacement, or for any other reason, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case. Related Resources: Injured by a metal hip replacement? Get your claim reviewed free. (Consumer Injury) Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuit (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law) DePuy Hip Implants (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law) DePuy Hip Replacements: FDA Takes Closer Look (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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