Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Charged for Fatal Pipeline Explosion

April 4th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

Industrial accidents seem to be occurring on an increasing basis. You may be the victim of an accident that was not your fault? If you have been hurt or a loved has been injured, a personal injury attorney is going to be necessary to make sure that the guilty party takes responsibility for your injuries. If your loved one has died, you will be able to file a wrongful death claim. An industrial accident attorney can also help you obtain money for funeral expenses, lost wages and payment of medical bills.

Criminal Charges in 2010 Blast

In 2010, a pipeline exploded in the San Francisco Bay area. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company was charged with violating safety regulations set by the federal government. Specifically, the utility company has been formally charged with 12 felony counts of violating pipeline safety laws.

In the event that the company is found guilty on these charges, the court could levy a fine as high as $6 million as punishment. However, the possibility remains that the fine could be even higher. The court has the privilege of increasing the fine if the prosecution can demonstrate that the company received some financial benefit from this catastrophe.

Evidence Against the Utility Company

According to the federal government, officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Company were aware that the information that was used to assess the pipeline’s safety was incomplete and erroneous before the explosion occurred. The government came to this conclusion because the utility company received warnings from its own inspectors that there were problems with the pipeline.

The company neglected to address the inspectors’ concerns at that time. Furthermore, in 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the company’s negligence was directly responsible for the blast. Even more incriminating is the fact that the board made a point of stating that the failure was definitely not a mechanical one. Instead, this explosion was an “organizational incident.”

Soon after the final safety assessment, the pipeline ruptured and a fireball destroyed 38 houses in San Bruno. That day, eight people lost their lives and dozens of people sustained injuries. The neighborhood has yet to recover from this tragedy although nearly four years have passed.

Agreement With the Charges

City Manager Connie Jackson agrees with the government’s actions. The city’s position is that the utility company failed to manage its operations in a responsible manner and was negligent in protecting public safety. California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris also agrees. She believes that this indictment is a step in the direction of bringing closure to the victims of this incident.

Disagreement With the Charges

The one dissenting voice comes from the parent company of the defendant. Officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation believe that Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s employees did not perform any actions that are in violation of the Pipeline Safety Act. They acknowledge that some people made mistakes but that keeping the public safe and providing affordable and reliable energy were the employees’ top priorities.

A Previous Indictment

Although it does not happen every day, the federal government has filed similar charges in the past. For example, in 1999, a pipeline explosion that occurred in Washington State led to an investigation and subsequent prosecution of Olympic Pipe Line Company. A ruptured pipeline caused 225,000 gallons of gasoline to spew into the creeks of Bellingham, Washington. Three officials associated with the company received prison terms or probation. The company was required to pay a $112 million fine and make safety improvements.

Officials with Pacific Gas and Electric Company have apologized to the community and said they are doing everything they can to help those affected by the blast.

Houston Texas Ship Channel Closed Due to Oil Spill

March 25th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

On Saturday, March 22, almost exactly 25 years after the infamous Exxon-Valdez oil spill caused tremendous economic and environmental damage, a barge carrying over 900,000 gallons of especially heavy, tar-like oil collided with the tanker Summer Wind in Galveston Bay. As a result of this collision, an estimated 168,000 gallons leaked into the water.

At about 12:30pm on Saturday, the Coast Guard received a call from the captain of the Summer Wind, the ship that collided with the barge. At the time of the accident, the barge, which is owned by Kirby Inland Marine, was being towed from Texas City to Bolivar.

Six Galveston crew members of the tow vessel were reported injured but in stable condition and the oil spill is having an economic impact on local businesses. Jones Act and maritime laws will help protect the rights of the injured seamen and an industrial accident attorney can help businesses file claims for economic losses.

Clean-up efforts began shortly after the accident was first reported. Kirby Corp., which operates Kirby Inland Marine, is voluntarily paying for the clean-up. Hundreds of workers, operating oil-retrieving vessels, have descended into the bay to deal with the spill. Pressure is especially high because of the threat the oil poses to migratory birds. This incident unfortunately occurred at the height of the migratory shorebird season, making a rapid and effective response imperative if environmental disaster is to be avoided.

By Sunday, oil was reported about 12 miles off of the coast. The Houston Ship Channel was closed for a second day, leaving dozens of ships waiting for permission to enter or leave as the authorities halted traffic at the busiest gulf coast port. The Coast Guard sent out a warning that portions of the Ship Channel and other nearby waterways might be closed for the rest of the week.

On Monday morning, the Coast Guard announced that the shipping lane would probably be reopened by the end of the day, but they unexpectedly reversed this statement by Monday night, acknowledging that it would need to remain closed longer than anticipated. As of Monday night, there were over 90 ships waiting for the channel to reopen, with no definitive answer as to when regular operations might resume. Meanwhile, parts of Galveston Island have also been closed to the public, and the ferry between Galveston and Bolivar has been closed.

The Coast Guard cannot allow normal traffic to resume until the oil is cleaned up, or it will cling to ships. Any ship that has had contact with the oil must first be cleaned before it is permitted to leave the affected area.

Also on Monday, the economic fallout of the collision began to spread, with Exxon-Mobil announcing that it was cutting production at its Baytown refinery, the second largest refinery in the nation. Despite Exxon’s decision, most experts are not worried about serious economic fallout, as there is enough inventory in this region to mitigate the effects of a temporary delay in production. None of the many other refineries in the area have announced plans to reduce their production as of Monday night.

It is anticipated that sea side property owners and local Galveston businesses will experience economic losses and seamen who have been injured while on the job have certain rights codified by the Jones Act of 1920. Injured seamen are permitted to make claims against ship owners, captains and other crew members due to negligence with the help of a work injury attorney. Because of this unfortunate collision, industrial accident and Jones Act attorneys are able to fight for compensation on behalf of the affected parties of the Galveston Bay oil spill.

Gas Explosion in New York City Levels Two Buildings, Death Toll Now at 8

March 14th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

You can suffer an accident that is due to the negligence of others anywhere, and it is even possible to have this experience in your own home. In these instances, it will be necessary to hire a personal injury attorney because you will need money to help pay your unexpected medical bills. You may even have to miss work. This will make it difficult for you to pay your monthly bills, so it will be within your rights to file a claim for monetary compensation.

Workers can also suffer injuries due to the irresponsible actions of their employers or other employees. Sometimes, these injuries are very serious and result in death. If this has happened to your loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover a portion of the salary that your main breadwinner can no longer provide. This will require that you hire an industrial accident attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected.

A Gas Explosion in East Harlem

One example of an incident that may require the assistance of a personal injury attorney transpired in East Harlem on Wednesday morning an explosion occurred that some people are calling “Harlem’s 9/11.” Around 9:30 a.m., a citizen called the fire department to report hearing a large explosion. This blast and subsequent fire caused the immediately affected building and the one next to it to collapse leaving eight people dead.

Rescue Efforts Continue

Approximately 60 people suffered injuries in this incident, and rescuers are continuing to search for other victims. Immediately after the blast, first responders were unable to begin searching for casualties because of a sinkhole that was created by a water main break. The 20-degree temperatures and rain also did their part to cause difficulties for rescuers who were trying to save anyone hurt in the blast.

When they were able to resume work again, first responders used thermal imaging cameras and floodlights to detect the presence of human bodies and heat from any fires that may still have been burning. They are eager to find anyone who is trapped in the building and are currently using their hands to comb through the fallen debris.

The Damage

The main building had the Absolute Piano store on the bottom floor and four subsequent floors of apartment units. The other affected building’s ground floor contained the Spanish Christian Church with apartment homes on higher floors. These two buildings sustained major damage, but dwellings as far as a block away also suffered crumbled walls and shattered windows. Furthermore, the explosion caused debris to fall on commuter railroad tracks. As a result, officials were forced to temporarily suspend Metro North train service.

A Discrepancy in Reports

Although people made statements to the contrary, Con Edison’s officials are reporting that they had no idea there was a problem at the building until about 15 minutes before it exploded. A resident of an adjacent building called Con Ed to state that he smelled gas but that he believed it was coming from outside of his building. Con Ed immediately sent a team to investigate, but they did not arrive in time.

Con Edison is not the only entity that is refuting the suggestion that a problem was reported before Wednesday morning. The fire department also denies that anyone called to report a gas smell from either affected building in the past 30 days. According to Con Ed, the only report of a gas leak that it received in this area came last May. Officials state that they promptly sent someone to investigate and that the problem was fixed that day. Con Ed regularly checks its buildings for gas leaks, and workers did not find any problems during their last inspection on February 28.

Fatal Gas Explosion Also Injures 7 Utility Workers

March 11th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

One person died and seven utility workers received injuries because of a huge explosion that occurred March 4, 2014, in South Fork, New Jersey. The blast, fueled by gas, also damaged or destroyed at least 55 homes.

Anyone can be the victim of an accident and suffer injuries at any time, but industrial workers typically face a greater danger of incurring job-related injuries. Work injury lawyers help people injured on the job, and an industrial accident attorney or personal injury attorney can usually ensure that residents and workers receive adequate compensation for their injuries in this type of explosion.

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) company employees were attempting to remedy a problem with the electricity in a home next to the site of the explosion before the blast occurred. The company engaged Henkels & McCoy, contractors based in Long Island City, New York, to correct the problem. Officials believe an electrical contractor possibly damaged a small service line or a two-inch, underground gas main while digging in the area, which may have caused the catastrophe.

Mike Gaffney, director of gas construction, said, “Either the service line or the main to the area was cut.” However, Gaffney later said a small breach may have allowed gas to escape and feed the flames.

After the contractors apparently cut or nicked the PSE&G line, gas started building up inside one of the homes. Henkels & McCoy employees noticed the smell of gas in the area shortly before noon and notified PSE&G immediately. The Henkels & McCoy workers then moved to a safer area, farther from the odor.

PSE&G employees arrived at the scene 13 minutes later and had been working nearly an hour to rectify the problem when the explosion originated from a condominium unit shortly before one o’clock. A ball of fire followed the thunderous blast, and the fire raged for more than two hours. Flames soon appeared along the ground close to a vertical driller used for digging into the soil as well.

The blast demolished the condo unit, area homes and injured two Henkels & McCoy employees along with five PSE&G workers. Several workers were standing in front of the condo when the explosion occurred. Two employees went to the hospital for treatment of injuries and five workers went for observation. Some of the victims required surgery, but none of the injuries included burns. The injuries were minor to moderate and not regarded as potentially fatal. Leg fractures to bones below the knees were the most serious wounds, and some workers suffered concussions from the momentum of the explosion. Other injuries included debris from the blast embedded in the skin and lacerations.

Officials believe the woman who died in the explosion lived in the area because they found her body on the hood of a vehicle parked in the wreckage of the demolished condos. Although the blast destroyed at least 10 houses and extensively damaged many homes as well, no other residents were injured.

If the accident had occurred at night when most of the residents were at home, the number of people killed or injured may have been much higher. Ewing Police Lieutenant Ron Lunetta said, “I think if it was at night, our injury numbers would have been up. Had it had to happen, at least in the daytime a lot of people were not there.”

Hours after the explosion, local and state inspectors began examining the wreckage and attempting to determine the magnitude of the damage. Investigation by the police department will begin when officers are able to conduct interviews with the hospitalized blast victims. The New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities and PSE&G are both conducting investigations to establish the cause of the accident. The utility has had prior experiences with Henkels & McCoy without encountering any problems.

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Actions in Texas

February 19th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

When someone is injured, he or she may be able to recover medical expenses and other damages by filing a lawsuit. A statute of limitations is the length of time that the law allows individuals to initiate a lawsuit. Every situation is different, and a careful evaluation of the individual’s claim is necessary to determine which statute of limitations applies. However, Texas law groups personal injury claims in several categories and defines the conditions relating to civil suits.

For most personal injury claims, the statute of limitations in Texas is two years from the date of the injury. However, exceptions exist. For example, if the liable party is a Texas state employee or government agency, injured parties must first file a claim with the responsible agency no later than six months after the incident. A longer period may apply if the injury is caused by medical malpractice and the party is under the age of 12; in this instance, claims must be filed by the child’s 14th birthday. For other categories of injuries to a minor, however, limits on the time to file a claim may not start until he or she turns 18.

Due to the complexities of the statute of limitations laws in Texas, a professional consultation with a Houston attorney is often the first step in determining the rights of the injured party. A car accident lawyer, product liability attorney, medical malpractice lawyer or other personal injury attorney can help determine whether claimants have grounds for a lawsuit. Once engaged to represent a client, the attorney will make sure that all motions and petitions are filed within the required time frames, which may not be the same as the overall statute of limitations.

The laws can be even more confusing for those injured in a workplace accident. Under Texas law, the time limit to file a workers’ compensation claim is one year from the date of injury. If the injury is from a work-related disease, the time is one year from the date that the condition was recognized as, or should have been known to be, employment-related. Although workers’ compensation claims are an entirely different matter, failure to initiate such a claim can sometimes hinder a lawsuit for personal injuries suffered on the job. However, only a qualified work injury attorney can advise on the complexities related to lawsuits for workplace injuries.

In some cases, it is not reasonable to expect that the cause of the injury would have been discovered before the statute of limitations expired. For example, a work-related disease might take many years to develop. Under Texas law, certain personal injury suits can be filed even after the statute of limitations has ended. However, this “discovery rule” permits filing of claims for only a short period, and it does not apply to all injuries. A lawyer, such as a Houston personal injury attorney, can determine whether the discovery rule applies in a specific circumstance.

It is important for injured parties to understand the difference between a statute of limitations and a statute of repose. One definition of “repose” is the absence or cessation of activity. If a statute of repose applies to the defendant, the law protects the defendant from lawsuits filed after the statute of repose has run its course even if an injury occurs at a later date. To illustrate, suppose the manufacture of automobiles is subject to a 20-year statute of repose. An individual suffers an injury in a 25-year-old car with a design defect. The injured person cannot file a claim even if the defect caused or contributed to the accident.

In certain instances, the statute of limitations may be tolled, which means that it is suspended temporarily. For example, if the defendant enters bankruptcy while the statute of limitations is running, the clock typically stops on the statute of limitations until the defendant is out of bankruptcy.

Personal injury cases are complex matters requiring a qualified attorney. Failing to file a claim within the statute of limitations can result in the injured party permanently surrendering the right to file. However, because exceptions to the two-year rule exist, injured Texans should consult an attorney rather than assume that they cannot file a lawsuit because the injury occurred more than 24 months ago.

Recent Deaths Prompt Calls for Increased Bike Safety Awareness in Houston

February 6th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

A recent incident in Houston has led to calls for stricter enforcement and increased penalties for drivers who injure or kill bicyclists through negligence. Chelsea Norman was the victim of a hit-and-run accident on December 1, 2013 and died of injuries sustained in that accident a few days later. On February 5, 2014, Houston police arrested Margaret Renee Mayer for not stopping to offer assistance after she allegedly struck Norman with her car and then left the scene of the accident. Chelsea Norman was found some time later and was transported to the hospital, where she later died. The investigation revealed that Mayer had been drinking on the night of the accident, but it is not known whether Mayer or Norman was directly at fault for the collision.

Limited Legal Recourse

Chelsea Norman’s fate has led to calls for increased bicycle safety programs and harsher penalties for drivers who fail to comply with state and local traffic ordinances regarding bike lanes. Mayer is currently charged only with failure to stop and give aid after an accident. In cases like these, seeking legal help from a qualified Houston auto accident lawyer can sometimes provide an alternative way to hold drivers accountable for their actions. An attorney specializing in Houston wrongful death cases can provide families with compensation for their losses and can help to provide closure in this difficult time. The right Houston personal injury attorney can help victims of these accidents to manage medical expenses and other associated costs of their recovery period.

Recent Events Prompt Concern

The hit-and-run accident that claimed Chelsea Norman’s life is not an isolated incident in Houston. The city was the scene of two similar hit-and-run collisions within two months of Norman’s death:

  • Nabor Rosas-Inclan’s body was found on January 13, 2014, near the Brays Bayou Bike Trail. It is believed he was the victim of a hit-and-run collision on Broadway near the Houston Ship Channel and the force of the accident sent Rosas-Inclan into the water, where he was later found by two fishermen.
  • On December 20, 2013, Stephen Belle lost his life after his bicycle was struck by an unknown vehicle as he crossed Normandy near the East Freeway in Houston. The hit-and-run driver has yet to be located by police, and few leads are available.

Public safety officials and leaders in the Houston cycling community have joined forces to call for added driver awareness and increased enforcement of current bike lane laws and regulations.

A Serious Disadvantage

Bicyclists are at a significant disadvantage in collisions with larger vehicles. The light weight and reduced protection afforded to cyclists can create serious injuries even in low-speed accidents. Helmets and other protective gear can allow a greater degree of safety on the road. Bike lanes are also helpful in establishing a clear path for cyclists to follow away from other traffic. Houston has established bike lanes and trails to allow cyclists to navigate the city more safely; however, a concerted effort to raise bicycle awareness among Houston drivers may be required to prevent further tragic accidents in the future.

By pursuing legal action against drivers who cause accidents through negligence or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, families and victims can achieve a small degree of closure on these incidents. Settlements reached with the help of a qualified personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance in managing medical bills and providing financial support throughout the victim’s recovery. Compensation for wrongful death cases can allow families to start over again after the loss of their loved one. Ultimately, however, increasing driver awareness of bikes on the roadways will be the key to reducing the number of accidents involving cyclists in the Houston area.

Exploring Solutions for Distracted Driving Deaths in Texas

February 4th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

A summit organized by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller will focus on the issue of distracted driving and potential technological solutions for this endemic problem. According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,300 people were killed and over 420,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving in 2012. Texas law currently places no restrictions on the use of cell phones to talk while driving and limits texting only for newer drivers and for school bus drivers. This lack of legislation regarding the serious issue of distracted drivers on streets and highways has left Houston drivers vulnerable and has led to civil lawsuits in the Texas court system.

Holding Distracted Drivers Accountable

For many victims of distracted driving, pursuing a case in court can provide a greater sense of closure for the accident. It can also allow accident victims and their families to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions and can provide valuable financial support for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other costs associated with the incident. A qualified Houston personal injury attorney can provide support throughout the legal process and can ensure the most positive outcome for the case. By enlisting the help of a Houston car accident lawyer to handle their legal proceedings, the injured parties and their families can ensure proper compensation for their losses. Attorneys specializing in Houston wrongful death cases can often achieve sizable financial settlements to provide much-needed stability for those left behind.

An Ounce of Prevention

The summit organized by Senator Rockefeller will look into new technological strategies to reduce the distractions represented by cell phones and texting applications. A number of mobile applications have already been developed to help prevent distracted driving due to cell phone conversations and texting activities:

  • Some cell phone customers can take advantage of the DriveSmart Plus app from T-Mobile, which silences calls and text notifications when it detects that the user is currently driving. Calls are sent to voice mail, and texts receive an automatic response that lets the sender know that the driver is unable to respond at the present time.
  • The TXTL8R application is available free of charge to drivers aged 17 and under in the state of Iowa. The app functions in a similar way to DriveSmart Plus and prevents texting and cell phone calls while in use.
  • An application available for both Android and Apple smartphones, CellControl consists of two separate components. The application itself resides on the user’s cell phone, and a device is also placed under the steering column to register when the user is driving. This system is ideal for teen drivers and resists most efforts to defeat its protections.

The summit will explore these and other ways to prevent distractions while driving and to create a safer environment on the road.

Working for Stricter Laws

In 2012, more than 90,000 accidents in Texas were attributed to distracted driving. Houston drivers alone accounted for 4,662 of these accidents, one of which resulted in a death. Texas is one of just nine states in the U.S. that has not yet banned texting and driving for all motor vehicle operators. By working for more restrictive legislation regarding distractions while driving, Houston residents can make a positive difference in improving traffic safety throughout the state.

Taking legal action to hold drivers accountable for texting, chatting or other distracting activities behind the wheel can ensure adequate financial resources for accident victims coping with extensive medical bills and lost time at work. The funds received from legal settlements can provide a measure of financial stability for families who have lost a loved one to a distracted driving incident and can help them to pick up the pieces and go on with their lives.

Unscrupulous Claim Denial Tactics Practiced by Unum Life Insurance

January 7th, 2014 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

Consumers depend on insurance companies to provide financial support when it is needed most. Life insurance policies can provide the resources necessary to allow grieving families to manage ongoing expenses and funeral costs. Disability insurance is vital for individuals who can no longer pursue their careers due to accidental injury or illness. In most cases, insurance companies pay benefits as agreed. Some unscrupulous companies, however, collect premiums and fail to deliver the promised benefits to their policyholders. One of the worst offenders in this regard is the Unum Life Insurance Company, which is now facing numerous lawsuits due to repeated breach of contract offenses against its clients.

Legal Recourse for Victims

After a qualifying event, consumers should enlist the help of an experienced attorney to ensure that their claim is processed fairly and in a timely way. A work injury lawyer can assist with obtaining workers compensation payments for clients and can ensure that all paperwork is completed accurately and completely. In many cases, retaining a personal injury lawyer can level the playing field for consumers in dealing with insurance adjusters and obtaining a fair settlement for their claims. This is especially true when dealing with problem companies like Unum. A qualified disability claim or auto accident lawyer can often streamline the settlement process and prevent insurers from attempting to avoid payment on valid insurance claims.

Unum’s Dismal Track Record

Insurance experts have identified a number of tactics used by Unum Life Insurance to deny or delay claims by its policyholders. Some of the most common methods used by Unum and other companies to avoid payment include the following:

  • Misclassification: Unum has repeatedly misclassified claimants for disability benefits in an effort to disqualify them from eligibility for payments under their insurance contracts. Unclear and misleading language used in Unum’s disability insurance policies can often lead to extended delays or failure to pay on these contracts altogether.
  • Altering the Contract: Unum has been accused of making changes to insurance policies without the prior authorization and consent of the policyholder while the coverage was still in force. These changes may have been made prior to the date of the claim or after the fact in an effort to avoid payment. In some cases, Unum never informed the policyholder of these changes at all.
  • Misuse of Medical Experts: Some Unum policyholders allege that the company obtained opinions from medical examiners who were not properly qualified or knowledgeable in the particular injury or medical problem in question. In other cases, Unum may have contracted with third-party examiners to act on behalf of the company in denying claims without proper medical examination or in lieu of a true third-party examination by an unbiased medical professional.
  • Delay Tactics: Unum is also accused of repeatedly requesting additional information and requiring claimants to fill out redundant and unnecessary forms in an effort to delay the processing of valid claims. By requiring policyholders to provide the same information over and over or requiring visits to a specific and typically overbooked clinic, the insurer can increase the likelihood of errors on the part of the claimant that can lead to a denial of the claim.

These strategies can allow Unum and other insurers to avoid payment on claims for an extended period of time or to deny them altogether, leaving policyholders with few options and reduced resources to pursue their claims.

A qualified personal injury and disability claims attorney can provide the legal expertise necessary to take on these major insurance companies and to force them to live up to their financial obligations. By retaining the services of an experienced lawyer to pursue insurance claims, consumers can defend themselves against unscrupulous tactics and can achieve the most positive outcome for their insurance claims.

When To Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer

December 13th, 2013 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

Expecting to be fairly compensated following an injury that happened because of someone else’s negligence is not realistic. The courts can only do so much, and it is all too easy to be shortchanged by letting the process unfold without professional help. Still, how can you tell when it is right to hire a personal injury lawyer? After all, you do not want to pay all those legal fees if it is not going to benefit you in any way. While it is true that people sometimes needlessly hire a personal injury attorney, it is also true that they are often necessary.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer if Any of the Following Things Apply to You

Depending on the nature of your injury, you may need a work injury lawyer or a lawyer who specializes in some other area of law. In any case, you should always get legal help when any of the following applies to your situation:

  • In the case of a car accident, the other driver is under-insured or uninsured. A car accident lawyer can help make sure that you do not slip through the legal system due to the other person’s negligence.
  • If your injury is severe and will have a major impact on your life for the foreseeable future. This means that you are probably going to have large medical bills, and you will need all the help you can get.
  • You are concerned that the statute of limitations in your area may expire before you can adequately challenge a claim on your own. A lawyer can act a lot more quickly on your behalf to ensure that you are fully and properly compensated.
  • If it seems like the insurance company or adjuster is pressuring you to take a settlement. This tactic is often used to push people into accepting less than they are entitled. It is a classic move, and it is a prime example of why you need to have competent legal representation in many cases.
  • Following an accident, you and the other driver may dispute who is to blame. Leaving it strictly up to the courts to decide is a recipe for disaster, so always retain an attorney.

What to Expect when Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

The main thing you should know about hiring a personal injury attorney is that you will probably pay for the services rendered on a contingency basis. What this means is that the lawyer will be reimbursed with a percentage of whatever settlement you receive. This is known as a contingency fee. The fee varies from lawyer to lawyer. Make sure to ask how much the fee will be before retaining your attorney to avoid surprises. Keep in mind that some lawyers charge as much as 40 percent.

In addition to the contingency fee, you will have to pay all court fees and costs. You will also be responsible for any other fees that may be incurred. These kinds of costs and fees usually need to be paid immediately.

Another thing to keep in mind is that personal injury cases are not usually settled overnight. In fact, they can wend their way through court systems over periods of months or even years. One major factor is how busy the court is in general. If you live in a metropolitan area with a very busy court, your case will probably take a long to be resolved. If you are told that your case will be handled quickly, proceed with caution. Even in areas with courts that are not extremely busy, personal injury cases tend to move slowly.

By retaining the right attorney following an injury, you can protect your rights and increase the odds of receiving the compensation that you deserve. In the long run, it is often the best way to go.

When You Can Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation for a Workplace Injury

December 6th, 2013 by Melanie Ledbetter-Remy

Regardless of the nature of the business, employees expect some assurance that their work environment is reasonably safe and hazard-free. However, workplace injuries happen even with safety practices in place. If it happens to you or someone you know, consulting work injury lawyers immediately to clarify your course of action is advisable.

The Limits of Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The workers’ compensation program ensures that workers are compensated for acute injuries suffered on the job, long-term ailments developed as a cumulative result of working in a particular environment and any acquired illnesses traceable to occupational hazards.

The program compensates workers for medical treatment and vocational retraining if needed. Workers’ compensation benefits extend to replacement of lost wages in cases of temporary and permanent disabilities as well as survivor benefits for job-related wrongful death cases. Workers’ compensation benefits do not include punitive damages and reparation for pain and suffering.

Injuries due to Exposure to Toxic Substances

Industries that handle toxic substances including benzene, asbestos and a host of hazardous materials should have stringent safeguards in place to protect workers. However, acute injuries such as burns and poisoning still happen. These incidents are easy to document and prove because legal action typically comes soon after the incident. Contact a personal injury attorney to know your legal rights.

Long-term exposure to toxins can lead to debilitating illnesses with symptoms that are not immediately apparent such as those with asbestos-related illnesses. You will need the help of work injury lawyers with expertise in your case to research your work history and prove causation. The manufacturers of toxic substances, makers of safety gear designed to protect workers and intermediaries who sold the product can be held liable for workplace injuries related to exposure to toxic materials.

Injuries due to Defective Products and Equipment

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates workplace safety practices and monitors businesses for compliance. If you are injured by defective equipment, the manufacturer can be held liable for your injuries. Even if the product was not defective, manufacturers can still be found liable for failure to caution users of the possible dangers of using the equipment.

Dangerous machines can cause lacerations, amputations or mutilated hands and fingers. When you lose a limb or the use of your arms or legs, you may require extended rehabilitation, and still end up shifting careers entirely. Seek the advice of a work injury attorney who will help you navigate the complicated process of a product liability lawsuit.

Injuries due to Intentional and Callous Acts

When employers or their representatives put workers in a dangerous environment without providing appropriate training, safety equipment and emergency plans, these entities may be held liable for workers’ injuries. In these cases, companies can be sued outside the workers’ compensation system so that employees may receive appropriate payments for personal injuries and punitive damages.

Employers who fail to address safety issues brought to their attention may be held responsible for injuries that can be traced to their inaction. Failure to conduct OSHA-compliant risk assessments are grounds for compensation claims by injured workers.

Injuries Caused by a Third Party

If you are injured on the clock but the cause of the injury is not your employer, toxic substances or defective equipment, a personal injury attorney can sue the third party on your behalf and collect damages to pay for your rehabilitation and lost wages. Injuries suffered from vehicular accidents while you happen to be traveling for work may be compensable by the other party’s insurance if your attorney can show that they caused the incident.

You may be able to collect damages for workplace injuries even if the incident is not recent. Consult a personal injury attorney to examine your options.

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