The Impact of Social Media on Personal Injury Claims

As social media becomes more and common, individuals become increasingly comfortable with broadcasting the details of their lives on social media venues. Though social media can act as a positive outlet for individuals’ feelings and experiences, it also acts as legally-viable documentation of that person’s physical and emotional condition.

Impact on physical claims

Most of the time, individuals pursuing a personal injury claim do so because they have sustained physical injuries such as a broken limb, concussion, etc. To validate a plaintiff’s alleged injuries, a defendant (or insurer) may call upon medical experts who can testify to the plaintiff’s pain. Additionally, the defendant may try to drag up evidence that the plaintiff’s damages are not nearly as severe as they claim. Social media often provides the evidence that they seek, for individuals often post pictures that contradict claims about their degree of injury. For example, if a plaintiff is seeking damages for chronic pain or loss of mobility, pictures of them hiking post-injury can service as evidence against their claim.

Impact on emotional claims

Of course, social media doesn’t just serve as evidence against physical damage claims—it can also serve as evidence against emotion distress claims. For example, many individuals claim that an accident has caused them to experience anxiety, depression, withdrawal, isolation, etc. Even if the plaintiff is actually experiencing these emotions, pictures of them smiling and engaging in social activities may work against their claims. As the lawyers at Ravid Law explain, it’s often a good idea for individuals to hire an experienced lawyer to help them navigate personal injuries claims, even when they seem straightforward.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Oklahoma

It is always devastating when someone close to you dies unexpectedly, such as due to an undetected health condition or an accident. As pointed out on the website of law firm Abel Law Firm, it is doubly tragic when the death was directly caused by a third party’s wrongful act such as driving while intoxicated, neglect of a patient, or a defective product. These types of cases may qualify under Oklahoma law as a wrongful death, and the responsible party or parties may be named in a civil lawsuit for claiming compensation.

Wrongful death suits are essentially personal injury lawsuits except for the fact that the victim, who would have made a claim had he or she lived, had died. In wrongful death cases others may file a claim on behalf of the victim’s estate since the victim is unable to do so. This includes the surviving spouse, parent, child, or sibling, in that order. If there are no survivors in those categories, a person with the closest relationship to the deceased by marriage or blood may still file a claim. In some states two claims may be made: in behalf of the surviving family members and for the estate.

If a wrongful death claim prospers in Oklahoma, meaning that the jury or judge (if there is no jury) finds for the plaintiff, the defendant is liable for monetary damages which includes but not limited to mental anguish (for the death of a spouse or child), lost wages, loss of consortium, and reasonable expenses associated with the funeral and burial of the deceased. The type and amount of award will be determined by the court and the proceeds will be divided equitable among the beneficiaries of the deceased.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Oklahoma is two years from the death of the victim. Cases filed after two years will be disallowed in court. A civil action for wrongful death may run concurrent with any criminal case for the same death.

If you lost a loved one as a result of the negligent or reckless act of a third party, you may be able to make a wrongful death claim. Consult with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in that state for help in this matter and to ensure you receive the compensation you are entitles to.

There are More Out There: Da Vinci Robot Surgical Injuries

Despite the numerous complaints already being filed against California-based Intuitive Surgical, Inc., maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System, it turns out that surgical injuries are actually being underreported. This was concluded by Johns Hopkins researchers who put together court records and news articles to come up with the true picture of the situation with da Vinci robot lawsuits in particular and the reporting mandate in general.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) routinely requires medical device manufacturers and drug companies to report all adverse occurrences relating to their product in order to ensure public health and safety. However, the study shows that because there are no real repercussions from the FDA when companies fail to faithfully report these adverse events, there is no motivation to do so. This means that in general when a product or device is shown to have serious side effects or defects the FDA only gets to hear about it from the victims themselves when extensive damage has already been done.

Because there are no warnings issued to the public, most people are unaware of the risk they are taking in patronizing these products or devices, which are in large part inadequately tested. Coupled with marketing strategies which entice consumers already primed to favor the newest technology, manufacturers are set up to make huge profits which would be compromised if adequate testing is carried out. This applies to consumer products as well, but medical devices and products have the potential for serious if not fatal harm.

Until the FDA’s reporting mandate acquires a more punitive personality, the only recourse for those who suffer injury or harm from the use of these devices or products is in civil court. And because the da Vinci surgical system is a wholly new category of medical device, litigation is likely to be highly complex. It would be necessary for those suffering from surgical injuries to engage a product liability lawyer well-versed in the arena of robot-assisted surgical devices such as the da Vinci system.

NFL Settles Concussion Lawsuit

The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement over brain injuries among 18,000 retired players. The settlement will fund concussion-related compensation, medical exams, some legal expenses, and a medical research program. More than 4,500 former athletes filed suit, accusing the league of profiting from the sport’s violence while hiding the risk of concussion-related brain injury.

The family of Dave Duerson was among those involved in the lawsuit. Duerson, former Chicago Bears and Notre Dame safety, committed suicide in 2011, leaving a note asking for his brain to be examined for football-related damage. Boston University researchers found that Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a trauma-induced disease found in dozens of retired and deceased NFL players. The family had originally filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NFL, but it was consolidated with the concussion-related lawsuits in February of 2012 because of its similarity.

Through the settlement, individual awards will be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer’s, $3 million for dementia, and $4 million for those diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Rather than spending millions of dollars and many years litigating thousands of individual claims, the agreement will provide relief and support where and when it is needed. This is a historic agreement that will help to promote safety for football players at all levels.

Drug and Alcohol Testing as Part of Trucking Regulations

Truck drivers are commercial drivers, and as such are required to pass higher-than-average standards when it comes to their operational fitness. This is because many truck drivers control large vehicles that may or may not contain hazardous materials, loads that are heavy enough to be dangerous when driving at high speeds, or simply be so big that they always pose a potential threat to smaller vehicles in their vicinity. Truck drivers need to be very good at what they do, always be alert, and be responsible when it comes to intoxicating substances.

As part of the trucking regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) as mandated by federal law, truck drivers are required to take drug and alcohol testing under the following circumstances:

  • Prior to hiring
  • Immediately after an accident
  • Return to duty after being suspended for prohibited alcohol use
  • Upon reasonable suspicion
  • Random and unannounced

These tests are typically saliva or breath testing as approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and in compliance with the procedures outlined in the 49 CFR Part 40 of the Department of Transportation. Employees who are found to have used alcohol and drugs in violation with trucking regulations are to be suspended immediately from safety-sensitive tasks i.e. driving a big rig. Employers are required to provide this information to the FMCSA to ensure compliance. According to the Williams Kherkher Truck Accident Resource Center website, trucking regulations involve not only the driver but the trucking company as well, and any attached liability for any accidents due to the use of alcohol and drugs by the truck driver.

If you are injured in a trucking accident, immediately engage a lawyer who is familiar with the trucking regulations pertaining to driver liability. If the driver fails to pass an alcohol and drug test immediately after the accident, you may have a clear basis for a personal injury lawsuit against the driver as well as the trucking company.

Products Liability and the Omnibus Tort Reform Act in Wisconsin

Major changes have been made to the civil laws on products liability in Wisconsin under the Omnibus Tort Reform Act of 2011 that will affect how manufacturers will be held accountable when it comes to design or manufacturing defects. Previously, Wisconsin was a strict liability state with no cap on punitive damages. The reforms have made it more difficult for plaintiffs to recover damages from manufacturers, sellers and distributors. However, according to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. in Rhinelander ®, this should not prevent product defect victims from addressing the problem and seeking compensation for injuries.

The new laws on tort liability now require that in order for a plaintiff to recover damages for injuries sustained due to a defect in a product’s design, it must present an alternative design for the product with which the injury would not have happened. This is the reasonable alternative design test which is in wide use in the US. A plaintiff claiming unawareness of the risks of using the product may only file for damages if there was inadequate or no warning or instructions included with the product. This is in direct contrast with the previously prevailing rule where it did not matter if there were instructions or warnings; as long as the plaintiff claims he or she did not know, the manufacturer may still be held liable.

Other conditions codified in the tort law include a statute of repose (after which a manufacturer may no longer be held liable, typically 15 years), a punitive damages cap ($200,000 or double the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is higher), limited market share liability, comparative negligence features and statutory defenses for manufacturers.

The new laws do make Wisconsin more attractive for manufacturers, but it also makes it more difficult for consumers to seek compensation for injuries they may sustain from a defect in the product’s manufacturing or design. The new law makes it even more imperative to have competent legal representation which will undertake the task of proving that a manufacturer breached its duty of care to its customers.