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Florida May Toughen Malpractice Requirements

Tough New Malpractice Requirements

Florida Governor Rick Scott will have the last say on a malpractice bill that has passed in the Florida state senate and house. The bill, Senate Bill 1792, would make considerable changes to the way that patients are able to file for malpractice in that state. The changes the bills bring about have riled opponents. Supporters claim that the bill will make Florida more amicable to physicians and increase patient options.

The Changes in Senate Bill 1792

The changes that the bill entails have some patient advocates alarmed. One provision of the bill allows a physician’s defense team to inquire with other healthcare providers for the patient filing the lawsuit. The bill changes the law so that this is not considered to be a breach of the patient’s privacy, something that advocates are very concerned about. The supporters of the bill say that filing a medical malpractice suit makes inquiring about matters that would have formerly been protected by patient/provider privacy appropriate.

The other provision of the bill creates stricter requirements for experts who testify in malpractice claims. The new legislation would require that experts be practitioners of the exact type of medicine involved in the lawsuit, according to Clinical Advisor. This means that it could be much harder for patients and their attorneys to get experts to testify on their behalf.

The bill is similar to other efforts that have been taken up by other state legislatures. The idea behind the bill is that malpractice claims drive up the cost of healthcare and make states unattractive places for doctors to practice. In Texas, where a similar set of changes has been put into effect, has shown that the effects – attracting more doctors, lowering the cost of healthcare, etc. – have not manifested in the wake of that state’s legislation.

What This Means For Attorneys

Malpractice claims oftentimes hinge on expert testimony. Changes to the law brought about by this bill may make it very hard for attorneys to find experts who qualify to testify in their cases, making it harder for plaintiffs to pursue their claims. The bill is backed by the Florida Medical Association. Support for the bill was largely along party lines, with Republicans backing the bill and Democratic representatives opposing it. Some Republicans, however, did express concern over the bill, particularly with those parts that allow the defense counsel to access formerly private medical information to support their defense of their clients.

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Contingency Agreements Need to Be Taken Seriously

Understanding Contingency Agreements

Many of the attorney advertisements you’ll see will make a significant effort to let you know that the attorney works on a contingency basis. This is the common arrangement for attorneys who work in the personal injury field. The very basic elements of this type of agreement are easily understood. The attorney takes a percentage of any winnings that they make on your case and, if you don’t win, you don’t have to pay them anything.

If you’re not careful about it, this can make it seem all too easy to seek out the compensation that you need for an injury that was done to you. Consider the following before you engage the services of any attorney, whether they are offering you a contingency agreement or not.

Check the Rates for Additional Services

Just about every attorney out there will charge you an hourly rate for their services. You will want to get an estimate as to how long they believe it will take them to prepare your case. You will also want to know how much they intend to take in courtroom fees, in fees related to administrative tasks and so forth. One of the things you want to avoid is thinking that, because an attorney works on contingency, their prices aren’t going to be high. Attorneys are very specialized and very educated individuals who charge appropriately for their time. Just make sure you understand what all the charges and fees are before you sign on.

Adding in Fees

Some attorneys will go ahead and recommend that you add their fees into the amount you are seeking in your jury award. Remember that the jury will determine how much money you receive, if any, and they may choose not to put this amount into the award. In such a case, you’ll end up paying it out of your award.

Simply because you have found a good attorney who is willing to work with you on a contingency agreement doesn’t mean that you are getting their services for free. You will have to pay for them, so it’s a good idea to shop around a little bit and see which attorney can offer you good services for the most competitive rates, as you would for any other service provider.

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Is It Worth The Effort To Sue?

If you are certain you are entitled to damages because somebody’s negligence brought you to harm, you may find yourself very disappointed if none of the attorneys you talk to are willing to take your case. It’s important that you understand that filing a lawsuit isn’t always going to do you any good, even if you are entitled to compensation from the individual you want to sue by any rational measure.

In order to collect on a judgment, you have to be suing somebody with the financial capability to pay that judgment. Here are some situations where you may find an attorney telling you what you don’t want to hear and some information to help you understand why.

The Person Is Broke

In some cases, a person may not have any substantial amount of money in the bank or any assets that can be used to pay off the judgment, but they will have a decent job. In such cases, the court may order that their wages are garnished to pay the judgment that they owe you.

If the person happens to have a very low income job, however, there is a chance that they will be exempt from wage garnishment. Combine this with the fact that such an individual is unlikely to have any money in the bank, is most likely a renter and not a homeowner and probably doesn’t have any assets to speak of and you have a situation where, even if you do win, the person simply has no way to pay you. Because most personal injury attorneys work on contingency, meaning they don’t get paid unless you actually get a jury award, they’re not likely to take a case against somebody in this sort of a financial situation.

Counterintuitive Elements

You will need to talk to an attorney about such a matter, however, because some parts of this are rather counterintuitive. For example, if you’re suing someone and it turns out that they recently declared bankruptcy, which may lead you to believe that they can’t possibly pay you back. What that actually means, however, is that they can’t use another bankruptcy to get out of the money that they owe you for the judgment. They’ll have to wait until they are eligible to file bankruptcy to do so again and, in all likelihood, you should be able to collect your judgment from them by that time.

Remember that, when an attorney tells you that it might not be worth your while to file a lawsuit, it may simply be because the person you want to sue doesn’t have a way to pay you, and not because you don’t have a valid case.

That is why it is important to talk to a lwayer before making any decisions or coming to any conclusions. Competent lawyers have the expperience behind them to make this type of recommendation.

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What’s the Difference Between Negligence and Incompetence?

Knowing The Difference Between Negligence and Incompetence is Critical

There is a difference between the words negligence and incompetence. The word negligence is generally heard in legal proceedings when an attorney is trying to establish that their client somehow came to harm because of the negligent actions of a defendant. A defendant who is negligent may or may not be incompetent. A negligent action, however, does not need to be incompetent, nor does it need to be a sign of general incompetence.

Incompetence

The word incompetent simply means that a person does not posess the requisite skills to perform a given task. It doesn’t mean that the person is lacking in intelligence, is habitually careless or anything other than their lack of specific skills.

For example, a person may be a fully competent driver, but put them on a professional racetrack and they will instantly be exposed as being completely incompetent when it comes to driving a racecar. Incompetence is situational and related to the job being performed. A negligent doctor can actually be an incredibly accomplished physician and not incompetent in any regard. It’s important to understand this where lawsuits are concerned.

Negligence

Negligence implies that somebody either failed to do something in a competent manner or a careful manner. A physician who was incompetent in delivering care, for instance, may be found to have been negligent by a jury. A physician who very competently delivered the wrong care, however, would also be likely to be found to have been negligent, if their patient were to have come to harm.

Negligence always takes into account the person being accused of it. For instance, using the above example with drivers, being able to perform the types of maneuvers that police officers, racecar drivers, EMTs and other professional drivers can perform is not expected of your average everyday driver. In such cases, you’ll commonly hear terms such as “a reasonable person” or “a normal person”. These might seem like rather subjective descriptions, but they refer to what can reasonably be expected of the average person in a given situation.

A perfectly competent driver may be outrageously negligent in a given situation. For example, a driver who gets behind the wheel drunk is being negligent. He may be an excellent driver, but driving intoxicated constitutes a negligent act. When you’re looking at lawsuits, remember that words are everything. Keep in mind that, simply because somebody was fully competent at their job, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t negligent in regards to how they made you come to harm.

It is always prudent to consult an attorney in serious legal matters. Most attorneys practicing injury law offer free consultation and in many cases, have contigency based fees.

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Can You Really Sue?

Can You Really Sue?

Do You Really Have A Basis For Suing Someone?

Threatening to sue is practically a pastime with some people, but there are specific conditions that have to exist before it actually becomes an option. Unfortunately, for some people who have been seriously intimidated by such threats, the conditions under which one can actually file a lawsuit are not quite as widely understood, as is the fact that suing is sometimes an option.

Damage

The entire point of filing a lawsuit is to get compensation for a real form of damage that has been done to the person suing. These damages have to be quantified in terms of dollars. If you are considering filing a lawsuit, you should consider whether the following conditions are actually true:

You Suffered a Loss

While some of the reasons that people sue a rather difficult to put into financial terms – pain and suffering, for instance – this can be done. However, merely the threat of having been injured does not constitute a valid reason to sue. There are plenty of occasions when business owners, property owners and others may find themselves having a very angry client, tenant or other individual threatening to file a lawsuit and when the person being threatened really has no valid reason to worry about getting legal representation.

Without damages, there is no point in filing a lawsuit. Being offended, threatened, feeling that one has been sold a worthless product or service absent any means of actually proving that is the case and myriad other situations under which people threaten to file lawsuits are really, in fact, nothing to worry about, in the vast majority of cases.

If you did not suffer a loss or, conversely, if you suffered some sort of a loss that cannot be converted into a dollar amount, then you probably do lack any legal grounds to file a lawsuit.

When to Get a Lawyer

Generally speaking, practicing law as a hobby is every bit as useful as practicing psychology as a hobby. While many people may feel they are experts in both fields, very few are. The best way to determine whether filing a lawsuit is actually a valid option is simply to talk to an attorney and to get their opinion on it. Because the vast majority of attorneys who help clients file lawsuits work on a contingency basis, it typically doesn’t cost any money to consult with an attorney to determine whether suing is actually an option.

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Improper Monitoring and Birth Injury Lawsuits

It is understood that a newborn child needs to be monitored closely to ensure that there are no issues. A lawsuit filed this year in Texas alleges that the doctors responsible for delivering a child were negligent by not providing the type of monitoring that would’ve allowed them to detect the symptoms of a serious disorder. The disorder in question was hyperbilirubinemia. Hyperbilirubinemia is a condition that involves the liver being unable to process bilirubin. That chemical collects in the blood and can lead to many different problems. Among those problems are brain injuries.

Unfortunately, the child in the lawsuit allegedly did suffer permanent injuries due to this condition. To make the situation even more tragic, the condition itself is easily treated with modern technology and, according to the lawsuit, if proper monitoring had been provided, the child may not have suffered at all.

Understanding Birth Injury Lawsuits

Birth injury lawsuits involve a range of different conditions. The one with which most people are likely familiar is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy, however, is a condition that results from a brain injury and that brain injury can occur because of many different reasons. A short list of those reasons includes:

Infections
Cutting off the child’s air supply
Too little amniotic fluid in the womb
Delayed cesarean sections
Negligent monitoring of the infant

Figuring out whether or not you do have legitimate cause to file a lawsuit against a physician or a healthcare facility is difficult. If a child is born with a brain injury or a condition that reveals a brain injury, such as cerebral palsy, a medical investigation is undertaken right away to determine what the cause of that condition actually is.

Unfortunately, many parents end up not pursuing the matter and, quite understandably, they’re simply glad that their child is alive. As time progresses, however, it becomes apparent that caring for a child with a serious medical condition is extremely expensive and many families simply do not have the financial wherewithal to provide the best treatment available. Attorneys can step in to help parents and children who have been the victims of medical negligence in one regard or another.

Who Gets Sued?

The party that ends up being sued depends upon the circumstances of the delivery. There have been cases where a child should have been delivered by cesarean section and where that was delayed, which ended up in the physician being sued. There have also been cases where midwives have failed to provide adequate medical care, leading to permanent injuries.

You will have to speak to a personal injury attorney to determine your options. You will need to do this quickly, as there are limitations on how long you have to sue over a birth injury.

 

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Lawsuit over Alleged Toxic Exposure Against Chevron Growing

The Herald Online reports that a lawsuit against Chevron is growing and there are now more than 4800 people signed on to the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Chevron is responsible for exposing the plaintiffs to toxins that resulted in them suffering serious health issues after a fire and explosion at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, California. The explosion and fire occurred on August 6, 2012.

The lawsuits are being filed over a facility that has a long history of issues. According to the report, the lawsuits allege that there have been at least 19 fires, explosions and spills at that refinery since 1989. The lawsuit also alleges that Chevron did not warn people in time about the health hazards posed to them by the toxins released by the fire.

Richmond, California, is located in the Bay Area of the state. The Chevron refinery is not the first one in that area to be the subject of a lawsuit. A refinery located in Avon, close to Martinez, California, was successfully sued over injuries and deaths resulting from an explosion at that refinery, as well.

Workplace Injuries and Lawsuits

Very large cases against employers – particularly when the employers are enormous multinational companies like Chevron – tend to get a lot of play in the media. In reality, however, many people are injured every day by employers who are negligent in one way or another in keeping their employees safe from harm. That negligence may take forms as simple and easy to understand as not providing adequate equipment or training to perform the tasks required of employees or as complex as withholding information about toxins to which employees are exposed and that eventually lead to those employees suffering devastating health issues.

Whether a company happens to be a large multinational or a small business, there are responsibilities that they have to their employees. When they endanger employees through negligent actions or inaction, they put themselves in a position where they may end up being sued by those employees, because the employees end up suffering expensive and sometimes life-threatening medical conditions, severe injuries or severe psychological trauma.

Talking to a Lawyer

There are many issues involved with suing an employer. For most people, there is always the fear of losing employment, which may already have happened, depending upon the extent of the injuries and how incapacitating they actually were. For other people, there is simply hesitation brought about by wondering if the accident was actually their fault. To deal with these types of issues, you need to speak with an attorney.

A personal injury attorney will understand what an employer is obligated to provide their employees in terms of safety and training. If you believe you have been injured by a negligent employer, contact a Houston personal injury attorney.

 

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Man Brought to Hospital on Life Flight Following Crash

KHOU reports that a Harrison County accident resulted in a 23-year old driver being brought to the hospital via Life Flight on November 21. The accident, according to police, occurred at an intersection when the driver was trying to cross traffic after exiting a shopping center. The driver was injured seriously enough to merit the helicopter trip to the hospital, but police also said that it was the driver’s fault that he got hit.

Understanding Fault and What it Means

When you’re at fault for an accident, it means that an action that you took or did not take led directly to the crash occurring. In some cases, these accidents may be negligence related and it’s not always the case that the negligent driver suffers fewer injuries. In fact, if a negligent driver ends up getting seriously injured in an accident they caused -injured worse than you- it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot file a lawsuit against them for damages.

Damages

A Houston personal injury attorney can help you seek compensation for damages that occurred due to an injury. These damages usually include the cost of replacing your property, of your current and future medical expenses that related to the accident, the cost of the wages you might have lost due to the accident and pain and suffering and mental anguish. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, these damages sometimes include compensation for a wrongful death, as well.

In some cases, the damages may not be quite as obvious as you think. For example, if a driver happens to crash into your home or yard, you can certainly talk to a lawyer about suing them for those damages. Not every car accident is a simple affair and the driver who is injured the worst is not necessarily the one who was the victim in these situations.

Talk to an Attorney

Your insurance company may be very good about giving you a payment in these circumstances, particularly when it’s cut and dried as far as the other driver being at fault. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk to an attorney about the matter. The attorney may well be able to get you compensated more substantially by taking a look at the circumstances of the accident and determining if there was outright negligence on the part of the other driver. If this turns out to be the case, they may want to take you on as a client and go after that other driver so that you stand a chance of getting proper compensation for what you’ve been put through. If the other driver in a wreck was more seriously injured than you, remember that it’s still worth it to talk to an attorney.

 

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Window Blinds Recalled After Child Death

The Consumer Product Safety Commission and the manufacturer of a line of window blinds are cooperating in a recall of approximately 139,000 vertical blinds and 315,000 horizontal blinds, according to a press release from the CPSC. The window blinds were implicated in the 2009 death of a two-year-old girl from Michigan who ended up being strangulated by a vertical blind cord.

The products come from the company Blind Xpress. The blinds are manufactured with an adjustment cord that hangs freely and that has a loop at the bottom. According to the press release, some of these loops are equipped with a weighted device, as well. The cord presents a threat of strangulation, as it is not secured to anything and, therefore, a child can become tangled up in it and be strangled.

The recalls involve blinds sold from between January of 1995 through December of 2011. They were sold at specialty stores in Michigan and manufactured in the United States. The recall only affects blinds that do not have an inner cord stop device on them or, in the case of vertical blinds, devices that do not have a cord tensioning device that can be affixed to the wall or to the floor to prevent this hazard.

If you have any of these blinds, the CPSC recommends that you stop using them immediately. You can get a free repair kit from the Window Covering Safety Council. If you want to contact them immediately so that you can get ahold of this kit, you can do so at WindowCoverings.org.

Product Liability Claims

In some cases, such as this case with the window blinds, the company that manufactures a product that proves to be defective in a way that poses a threat to customers will participate in a recall voluntarily. This, of course, is the ideal situation, as the manufacturer is taking responsibility for the products that they put on the market and because, of course, they are showing some genuine concern for their customers. This is not always the case, however. Some products have remained on the market after the manufacturers knew that they were dangerous, and, in some cases, manufacturers have resisted CPSC calls to recall a given product from the market.

Companies are responsible for the quality and safety of the products that they put on the market. If a product poses an obvious hazard that is not a characteristic of the device – a drill, for instance, poses a hazard of causing lacerations and puncture injuries, but that is rather unavoidable – recalling the product is sometimes the best course of action. In other cases, the company will simply offer you a free repair or a kit to repair the product so that you can eliminate the danger. If you have been injured by a dangerous product, however, be sure to speak with a Houston product liability attorney.

 

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Farmers Insurance Pays out $140 Million in Class Action

Farmers Insurance has agreed to a settlement for $140 million over the mishandling of claims related to car accidents. The lawsuit alleged that the insurance giant managed to get away with not paying anything at all or paying less than it should have on its medical payment claims and its personal injury protection claims for people harmed in car accidents.

These accidents and the claims that followed were filed between January 2001 and January 2009. The claimants will get 60 percent of the difference between the cost of their medical bills that they submitted to Farmers and the amount that Farmers actually paid them.

The settlement, according to the company, was agreed to because the company didn’t want to go through any more expenses related to litigation. It was possible that the jury award could have been very high if they had gone to trial, as well, a common reason that defendants sometimes offer a settlement in lieu of going to court.

If you believe that you should have been a part of this settlement, you can still fill out a form online to see if you qualify.

What Are Class Actions?

Sometimes, there are so many people who have such a similar claim against a defendant that it makes more sense to have all of their cases heard together than it does to have them all go through the court system separately. This is the reason behind a class action. The many different claimants in the case are referred to as a class and a small number of representative cases are tried to determine whether or not those plaintiffs, as a class, are entitled to the compensation that they’re seeking.

Insurance Companies and Lawyers

Lawyers can be of great assistance if you’re having a problem with your insurance company. Your insurance company does have very real obligations to you and, if they fail to live up to them, it may be worth your while to file a lawsuit to persuade them to give you what you deserve. The attorney you hire will, of course, be much better equipped to deal with a contract issue-which an insurance policy really is-than you are and that enables them to figure out where the insurance company may not be living up to its obligations fully.

Talking to an Attorney

A Houston personal injury attorney will usually be willing to sit down with you for free to discuss any claim you think you have. This gives them an opportunity to see if they can help you or not. If they cannot, they’ll just let you know; but, if they can, they may well want to help you get the compensation that you’re entitled to.

 

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