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Category Archive: Uncategorized

Category Archive: Uncategorized

  1. Why Are Overweight Trucks So Dangerous?

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    Trucking is an essential part of the United States economy, and tractor-trailers carry billions of tons of cargo across the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, the demand for tight delivery schedules, increased consumer purchasing, online ordering, and many other factors pressure trucking companies into overloading some of their trucks to meet demand.

    This has the unfortunate consequence of leading to serious truck accidents, as overweight or overloaded trucks are more dangerous than properly loaded trucks for many reasons.

    Weight and Braking

    One of the biggest dangers of overweight trucks is the impact on braking time and distance. Tractor-trailers require much more time and space to come to a complete stop than smaller passenger vehicles. An overloaded or overweight truck may move down an incline much faster than the driver expects and require much more time and room to slow down. If a truck driver cannot compensate for sudden shifts in momentum, accidents are very likely.

    An overloaded truck’s systems may not be able to handle the weight under less-than-ideal driving conditions. Too much weight or a sharp turn may put too much pressure on a tire and blow it out. Axles may snap, or a trailer may not be able to stay upright during a sharp turn at even moderate speeds.

    Load Distribution

    When distributors and trucking companies overload their trucks, they place added stress on the vehicle’s systems. The brakes need to work harder to slow the vehicle down, the engine needs to work harder to bring the vehicle up to speed, and the tires and axles need to be able to support the load. An improperly balanced load can put extra stress on one axle and lead to equipment failures, breakdowns, and even rollover accidents.

    An overloaded truck will likely have insufficient security in place for the cargo in the trailer. This can lead to weight shifts during transit. It’s also possible to lose products from damage due to crushing and falling inside the trailer while traveling. A trucking company that overloads a truck may believe they are being efficient, but they are actually risking more of their products and profit losses if the truck gets into an accident.

    Liability for Overloaded Trucks

    Most large trucks must visit weighing stations during their routes to ensure their vehicles meet the appropriate weight requirements. Generally, no tractor-trailer should weigh more than 80,000 pounds, aside from a few exceptions reserved for interstate trucks. A truck driver who visits a weigh station may not lighten the vehicle’s load if the truck is overweight.

    If a trucking company negligently overloaded a truck and the truck causes an accident, the company will likely bear liability for the resulting damages. In some cases, a truck driver may not know that a picked-up trailer has been overloaded until well into a journey. This puts the driver at risk, and the party responsible for loading the truck would face liability for the driver’s injuries and damages in the event of an accident as well as damages to other drivers.

    Trucking companies have a responsibility to keep accurate logs of truck trips, cargo loads, vehicle weights, and maintenance. Truck drivers have a duty of care to drive responsibly. The parties that load tractor-trailers must meet all applicable weight and safety requirements for every shipment, regardless of pressure to meet delivery schedules and other deadlines.

    When a trucking accident happens due to an overloaded truck, anyone injured may have grounds for a civil action against the driver, trucking company, truck’s owner, or any entity in the supply chain responsible for loading the truck. An injured driver should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss the legal options available after an overloaded truck accident.

  2. Common Brain Injury Myths

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    A brain injury can be devastating for a victim and his or her loved one, resulting in significant economic losses as well as physical and psychological harm that may involve permanent damage. Despite the severity of these injuries, there are many misconceptions surrounding brain injuries and it’s important for everyone to separate myth from fact when it comes to severe injuries.

    Myth #1: A Brain Injury Will Always Cause Unconsciousness

    Not every traumatic brain injury will render the victim unconscious. It’s possible for someone to sustain a severe traumatic brain injury and show almost no outward symptoms at first, aside from moderate disorientation. Whether a patient loses consciousness is a major factor in treatment, and responding paramedics and medical personnel will want to know if a victim lost consciousness for any time. If there is any reason to suspect a person suffered a brain injury, even if symptoms appear very mild at first, the victim should receive immediate medical care. 

    Myth #2: Imaging Tests Like MRIs Are the Only Way to Positively Diagnose Brain Injuries

    While it is true that some imaging tests like x-rays and MRIs can help diagnose a patient’s condition after a brain injury, these imaging tests will not only show signs of a brain injury. It’s possible and very common for imaging tests to appear normal after a brain injury. Medical professionals know this, so it is unrealistic for any party to claim that a normal imaging test result is proof no brain injury occurred.

    Myth #3: Only Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries Cause Permanent Damage

    The more severe a brain injury, the more likely the patient is to develop long-term medical complications from the injury. However, this does not mean that a mild brain injury like a slight concussion has no potential to cause permanent damage. Even mild brain injuries can lead to chronic conditions like regular headaches, migraines, and psychological issues that may take time to develop noticeable symptoms. Additionally, a brain injury victim is more susceptible to future brain injuries.

    Myth #4: Brain Injuries Always Result in Psychological or Cognitive Impairment

    Many brain injuries are capable of causing severe psychological effects and impair brain functions at various levels, but this does not mean that every brain injury invariably leads to permanent disability. Many recorded cases show people suffering severe head injuries and making full recoveries, while others who suffered only mild injuries struggle with chronic pain and other long-term effects.

    The effects of a brain injury may be physical, psychological, or a combination. The reality is that brain injuries affect each victim differently so there is no firm way to predict what long-term effects any particular patient could experience.

    Myth #5: Brain Injury Recovery Is Relatively Simple

    Many people mistakenly assume that a concussion or other head injury simply requires medical treatment and recovery time for a victim to return to normal. Recovery can take weeks, months, or even years for some brain injury victims.

    The severity of the brain injury, co-occurring conditions, preexisting conditions, and other factors may complicate a patient’s situation and lead to unique medical concerns later. There is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment method for brain injuries, no matter how severe or mild they are.

    Brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries a person can suffer. Brain injuries can potentially cause long-term or lifelong medical issues that interfere with daily life. Misconceptions and myths surrounding brain injuries delay treatment, and may actually put brain injury victims’ lives at risk in some situations. If there is any reason to believe that someone suffered a brain injury, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek immediate medical care.

  3. Should Doctors Use the Pain Scale for Injuries?

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    Doctors use a differential diagnostic process to assess patients’ problems; a doctor records a patient’s symptoms and vital signs to form a list of possible diagnoses and then uses a process of elimination to arrive at the most likely diagnosis for the patient.

    One of the factors many doctors rely upon to accurately diagnose patients is the degree of pain their conditions cause. Unfortunately, there is no way to objectively measure pain. It is an entirely personal experience and there is no medical test that can “prove” a patient’s level of pain.

    Doctors use the pain scale in many cases to help determine a patient’s condition, but this is also subjective. The pain scale is a one to ten scale that patients can use to rank the severity of their pain. A rating of one to three typically indicates mild pain and discomfort that the patient may barely notice or only find mildly distracting.

    Four to six on the pain scale indicate moderate pain that can be distracting, make it difficult to move, or perform certain actions for short periods. Seven to ten indicate severe pain that the patient cannot ignore. The patient may cry out, demand painkillers, or even fall unconscious from the severity of the pain.

    Why Is The Pain Scale Unreliable?

    Since pain is purely personal and subjective, one person’s “seven” could be another person’s “three.” It’s also possible for a patient to simply exaggerate his or her level of pain either knowingly or unknowingly. The pain rating that a patient provides to a caregiver or doctor will go onto the patient’s medical record. If the patient’s issue leads to an insurance claim or lawsuit, then it’s possible that different legal parties and insurance companies will view this record.

    If a provider believes that a patient’s reported level of pain does not fall in line with the provider’s observations and diagnosis, the provider may doubt the patient’s sincerity. This may also happen if the patient reports different levels of pain at multiple visits without justification. Ultimately, inconsistencies in reported pain levels can cause problems for patients later if these inconsistencies cast doubt on a legal claim.

    Tips for Patients Reporting Their Pain Levels

    There are several things any patient should remember when a doctor asks him or her to report pain using the pain scale. First, simply responding with a “ten” may seem like a good way to get providers’ attention, but a patient should only report a ten if he or she is on the brink of collapse and the pain is so unbearable the patient is ready to pass out. Some patients may report a “ten” to simply get painkillers or to create a sense of urgency. Ultimately, this can be a big mistake for several reasons.

    A patient’s pain levels may be the determining factor between two possible diagnoses, one more severe and requiring complex treatment. If the patient exaggerates his or her level of pain it may lead to unnecessary medical procedures or surgeries that cause further discomfort.

    Exaggerating pain levels can also cause problems for a patient who attempts to take legal action for his or her injury or illness. A defense attorney, insurer, or a judge may see a “ten” rating as an exaggeration if the plaintiff can manage to hold a conversation. This may cause them to doubt the patient’s claim or even believe the patient has been deliberately deceptive.

    It’s best for patients to try and report a range of possible ratings. For example, a patient could report that an injury feels like an “eight” during short periods but feels like a “four” most of the time. This can help a provider form a more accurate picture of the patient’s condition and provide better treatment. Ultimately, the pain scale isn’t foolproof, but it remains an important diagnostic tool until some type of objective pain measurement technique becomes available.

  4. When to Sue for Loss or Damages From a Wildfire

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    Wildfires have burned hundreds of thousands of acres of land in California and the Western United States over recent years. These fires have caused billions of dollars in property damage and displaced thousands of people. Only some insurance companies offer wildfire coverage, but policies that do cover these damages are typically expensive, especially in areas at high risk of wildfire damage. After a property owner suffers property damage and other losses from a wildfire, he or she should know when there are grounds for a lawsuit and recovery beyond insurance coverage.

    Insurance Before Lawsuits

    The first step to recovery after a wildfire is usually an insurance claim. A property owner’s policy may only cover certain types of damage or a certain amount, but it’s important to determine whether a claim falls under a policy’s guidelines. If a policyholder believes an insurance company denied a covered claim, the policyholder may have grounds for legal action against the insurer. Anyone shopping for insurance coverage in an area susceptible to wildfires should be very clear on the scope of fire damage coverage before signing up for a policy.

    Even if a property owner’s insurance policy covers fire damage of some kind, it may only apply to the home and not to land, livestock, vehicles, or additional structures on a property. When insurance doesn’t apply to wildfire damage or an insurer refuses to cover it, the property owner should speak with a reliable attorney to determine the best next course of action.

    Possible Legal Remedies

    If an insurance company acted in bad faith while handling a legitimate claim, the insurer faces civil liability in an insurance bad faith lawsuit. If the wildfire occurred from an intentional tort, such as arson, then any affected property owners may have grounds for civil claims against the responsible party. In such a case, the claimants could use the criminal charges from the state as grounds for restitution claims.

    Negligence is another common cause of wildfires. If a private individual, company, or government entity negligently causes a wildfire, any affected property owners may have grounds for civil suits against the responsible parties. One recent example of this scenario is the lawsuit against Pacific Gas & Electric, a major utility provider in California found responsible for more than $9 billion in damages for fires caused by their power lines in Wine Country.

    Individual Lawsuits vs. Class-Action Lawsuits

    When many people suffer damages from the same cause, such as the negligence of a particular company, those individuals may opt to either file individual lawsuits against a single defendant or band together in a class-action lawsuit. In a class-action lawsuit, many plaintiffs essentially roll their claimed damages into a single lawsuit against the responsible party. This allows legal proceedings to move much more quickly for everyone involved.

    There are benefits and drawbacks to either choice. An individual lawsuit may result in more compensation for a single claim, but the plaintiff will likely spend much more on legal fees and it may take a long time to receive a settlement or case award. A class-action lawsuit offers a speedier means of recovery at much lower cost to each individual plaintiff, but each plaintiff will likely receive much less than that from successful individual claims.

    The damage from a wildfire can be astronomical even for a single plaintiff. A wildfire could potentially destroy a home, vehicles, land, and cause serious injuries or health problems as well. Anyone who suffers injuries or other damages from a wildfire should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss legal options and potential complications with insurance carriers. A good attorney can determine if any parties are potentially liable for a client’s damages and help build strong civil claims against those parties.

  5. Top Legal Issues Following a Flood and What You Can Do in the First 24 Hours

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    Floods can be devastating to homes and businesses. Even a few inches of water can lead to thousands of dollars in structural repairs, toxic mold growth, lost inventory, and destroyed personal belongings. Anyone who has experienced flood damage knows that acting quickly is crucial after a flood; your first 24 hours after sustaining flood damage are crucial. It’s important to know the most common legal issues arising from flood damage and the best first steps to take to address it.

    Understand Your Insurance Policy

    One of the most common safety nets for flood damage victims is insurance coverage. Both residential and commercial property owners must carry some property damage insurance coverage. Any policyholder should fully understand the terms and scope of coverage in a policy before agreeing to it. Homeowners insurance and other types of property insurance typically stipulate the types of damage they cover.

    For example, a policy may offer “Fire Damage Protection,” but under the fine print you may find that it protects against fire damage from accidents like cooking mishaps, but not wildfire damage. If you live in a dry area prone to wildfires, this policy would likely be ineffective for you.

    Flood insurance coverage often works in a similar way. For example, the flood coverage section of a policy may state that the policy covers flood damage from broken appliances, burst pipes, and other internal causes of flooding, but not flooding from natural disasters. The most common legal issue facing flood damage victims after a flood is a problem with insurance coverage or an insurer denying coverage for a flood based on the terms of the policy.

    First Steps After a Flood

    There are several things homeowners and business owners should do in the first 24 hours after a flood to stand the best chance of financial recovery. These include:

    • Document everything. After sustaining flood damage, take as many photos as possible of all areas of your property affected by the flooding. It’s crucial to document as much of your flood damage as possible during and after a flood so you can use these photos as evidence in an insurance claim or future lawsuit. Don’t perform any water removal or repairs until you have fully documented the scope of the damage to your property.
    • Prevent further damage. If your home or business starts to flood, it’s a good idea to shut off the main breaker for the power to your property. Severe weather may cause a blackout anyway, and when the power returns the mixture of water and electricity can be extremely dangerous.
    • Protect your health. Floodwater may appear clear, but likely has contamination from all sorts of dangerous substances and bacteria. If you need to move around in flood water, wear protective outerwear like waders or waterproof, waist-high leg coverings and waterproof boots. Throw out any personal belongings, food, or furniture affected by floodwater to avoid contamination and the spread of disease.
    • File an insurance claim. While you may have concerns about your insurance coverage, file a claim as soon as you have fully documented the effects of the flood on your property and have a realistic idea of your total cost of damages. An attorney can help you draft a strong initial claim and handle any issues you may encounter with claims adjusters.
    • Assess additional legal options. Do you believe the federal or local government bears some responsibility for your flood damage? If city planners were negligent in disaster preparation, used negligent planning practices that did not account for flood risks, or you believe that a government agency failed to properly address flooding issues in your area, you may have a claim against the government.

    An attorney can help a property owner determine his or her legal options after a flood, handle problems with difficult insurance companies, and explore additional options for recovery beyond the scope of insurance coverage.