courts during covid-19

Are the Courts Ready for Business as Usual after Covid-19?

In early 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic began to sweep across the US, unprecedented mitigation efforts were implemented to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Social distancing requirements, nonessential business closures, and stay-at-home/shelter in place orders disrupted every area of our society, including the legal industry.

The court schedule slowed to a crawl, and for the first time ever, the Unified Judicial System went live with virtual court hearings in Alabama in late March. Most courts suspended jury trials during the lockdown, and only emergency hearings were allowed. Not surprisingly, this created a major bottleneck in an already strained court system.

What few of us realized in the early days of the pandemic was that the coronavirus was not going away anytime soon. Phased-in court reopening plans for the summer and fall were disrupted by a second-wave outbreak that took us well into the winter months, forcing many courts to revise their plans and continue limiting jury trials.

It has been more than a year since the pandemic began, and our country is still dealing with the effects of the deadly Covid-19 outbreak. We are finally starting to see significant drops in case numbers, and although new variants of the virus still pose a threat, we are cautiously optimistic that things can return to normal soon.

Light at the End of the Tunnel: But Are the Courts Ready?

As the situation improves, most Alabama courts are finally resuming a full in-person schedule or something close to it. But unfortunately, the damage that the extended Covid season has inflicted on the system will be felt for some time to come. The bottleneck created by the months-long limited court schedule is not likely to clear up anytime soon, and it is expected that there will be significant delays in the progress of cases for at least the next 12 to 18 months.

One of the difficulties that many attorneys are running into is an issue that many other industries have faced during the pandemic – supply chain problems. More specifically, as the number of cases ramp up, expert witnesses are in such high demand right now that many of them cannot be scheduled until several weeks or even several months out. As we know, the testimony of expert witnesses can often make or break the success of the case, so their lack of availability poses a major problem for parties who are pursuing litigation.

Mediation and Arbitration: Practical Dispute Resolution Tools for Unprecedented Times

With the lengthy anticipated timeframe to complete a court trial in the aftermath of Covid-19, it is wise for litigators to consider an alternative approach. Toward that end, mediation and arbitration are tried and tested forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that provide several potential benefits for the parties involved.

  • Mediation: Mediation is essentially a form of negotiation facilitated by third-party mediator and held in a neutral setting. The process is private and confidential, meaning the details of the case never become part of the public court record. While the process is facilitated by a neutral mediator, a settlement can only be reached if all parties agree to it. This gives participants more control over the process and allows for more creative resolutions that would be very difficult to achieve in a court setting. Mediation works very well for business disputes, personal injury claims, family legal matters, and virtually any other type of civil case. Some criminal cases can be mediated as well.
  • Arbitration: Arbitration is similar to mediation in that both are private proceedings that are conducted outside of the court process. The main difference between the two is that the arbiter usually has the authority to decide the case based on its merits, unless the parties go to non-binding arbitration. Arbitration is commonly used to resolve commercial disputes, and arbitration clauses are often written into commercial contracts in the event that a future dispute arises.

Even during normal times, mediation and arbitration have been increasingly preferred methods for resolving various types of legal disputes. These processes are very affordable compared to litigation, and because they are done privately between the parties, they can be completed in far less time than a lengthy trial that must adhere to the court calendar. With the extended court delays and “supply chain” issues brought on by Covid-19, it is more important than ever for parties that are involved in a legal case to consider mediation or arbitration as alternatives to resolve their dispute.

Are Employers on the Hook for Adverse Reactions if They Mandate a COVID Vaccine?

As the United States starts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and return to something resembling normalcy, questions swirl about the variety of COVID-19 vaccines available. In particular, many employees wonder about the legality of requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and what happens if you suffer an adverse reaction.

Learn more about current guidance on this topic, and if you’re looking for assistance with a workplace injury claim, contact an attorney in your local area.

Is the Vaccine Work-Related and a Condition of Your Employment?

First, you have to ask the question: is the vaccine a condition of your employment? If you are required to get the vaccine to go to work, then any subsequent adverse events are work-related. This means that any adverse event suffered by an employee after a mandatory vaccine becomes part of the safety record. This is true whether you got your vaccine from a government facility, standalone clinic, or as part of a vaccine clinic at work.

Recordable Adverse Reactions

Recordable adverse reactions are defined under OSHA rules, which require employers with more than 10 employees to track work-related illnesses and injuries. The criteria for a recordable event is described under 29 CFR 1904.7 under OSHA laws.

Per OSHA, an event is considered recordable if it results in one of the following:

  • Death
  • Days off of work
  • Restricted work abilities
  • Transfer to another job
  • Medical treatment beyond general first aid
  • Loss of consciousness

Even if none of those criteria are met, an event may still be recordable if it results in a significant injury or illness as diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare provider.

How Employers Are Responding

This guidance from OSHA, which was released on April 20, 2021, was greeted by a flurry of disapproval from contractors. They believe it is in direct contradiction of the government’s stated goal of getting as many people vaccinated as possible, as it gives employers incentive not to require the vaccine. They claim that it does the opposite and puts employers at risk for workplace injury claims if they do require the vaccine, even if they do so with the goal of protecting employees and consumers.

Quite a few contractors did require the COVID vaccine as part of returning to work. However, a substantial number of them are now changing course and simply recommending the vaccine for employees. This may drop vaccine rates and lead to community spread, which many employers have spoken out about.

This also raises questions for contractors working in certain areas. For example, those doing construction or remodeling work in a hospital may be at direct odds with the facility they are working on. It’s likely that the facility will house at-risk individuals and, as a result, require that all workers be vaccinated. This puts contractors in a bad position where they have to fulfill an obligation both to their employees and to their clients.

Staying On Top of Future Changes

Since this news is still very recent, it’s important to remember that this matter is far from settled. As has been the case since the start of this pandemic, everything is new and subject to change. Today, employers seem to be on the hook for adverse reactions if they require the COVID vaccine. However, that could change as new research comes out or there is significant pushback from employers across different industries. It is crucial for employees and employers alike to stay aware of changing OSHA recommendations and use those recommendations to better guide their decision-making process.

In particular, the construction industry is seeking further information and guidance regarding their vaccination requirements. In fields like this, liability and risks are considerably different than they are in other fields, and so vaccination standards may be different.

OSHA expects the COVID-19 emergency safety standard to be released in the latter half of 2021. It remains to be seen whether the standards will be the same as the current guidance, build on it, or completely override it.

If you suffer a workplace injury or illness, it’s important to explore your legal options. Find a workplace injury attorney in your area to get started.

Car Accidents in Franklin, KY

Serving as the county seat of Simpson County, Franklin is known for its number of notable people, Kentucky Downs, and dozens of churches found throughout the city. Not to be confused with Franklin County, the city of Franklin has fewer than 10,000 people, and as such, levels of traffic congestion are relatively low, and car accidents–especially serious car accidents–aren’t common.

But car accidents do occur from time to time, and in a single year, there were 599 motor vehicle accidents reported in Simpson County, three of which were fatal, and 117 of which were injury collisions. While Franklin may be a small city, those who are involved in car accidents within Franklin have as much of a right to seek compensation for their harm as do those in other parts of the state and working with an experienced car accident attorney is imperative.

Kentucky No-Fault Car Accident Laws

Kentucky is one of a handful of states in the nation that maintains a no-fault system for car accidents, which means that drivers must turn to their own car insurance company first, regardless of fault. To be sure, all drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical expenses resulting from an accident.

Because the no-fault system allows for a driver to recover compensation from their own insurance company after a crash, even if they themselves were to blame for the incident, drivers are simultaneously barred from filing a lawsuit against the other driver or filing a claim for compensation with the other driver’s insurance.

The no-fault law has some exceptions, though; drivers may step outside of the no-fault system and seek compensation from a negligent party who caused the crash and related injuries when:

  • Medical expenses total at least $1,000; or
  • An injury is severe enough to result in permanent injury, disfigurement, bone fracture, or death.

Because drivers may seek damages against the other party when their injuries or injury-related expenses meet the threshold described above, drivers are also required to carry liability insurance in the amounts of $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident, and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident.

Maximizing Your Compensation Award in a Crash

If you have been involved in a car accident and suffered property damage, bodily injury, or both, you surely want to receive the maximum amount of compensation available to you. If you are filing a claim with your own insurance company (PIP coverage), you will need to prove the full extent of damages you have suffered, which is best done by providing proof of medical bills, doctor’s notes and prescribed treatments, and in some cases, expert medical testimony.

If you are filing a claim with the insurance company of the other driver, things may become more complicated as not only will you need to prove the extent of injury, but also prove that your accident would not have occurred but for the actions of the other driver.

How a Car Accident Attorney in Franklin, Kentucky Can Help You

Many people involved in a car accident hesitate to hire a car accident lawyer following a crash, afraid that hiring a lawyer will only complicate things, and worried about their ability to afford a lawyer. While a lawyer may not be necessary for all car accident claims, here’s how a skilled attorney can help you:

Open an investigation into your car accident case. 

If you have to prove fault of the other driver in order to recover the compensation that you deserve, having an attorney on your side who knows how to conduct an investigation into your case, and is willing to dig deep to get the facts, is critical. A skilled attorney will not only dedicate the time necessary to thoroughly investigating your case, but also the resources; investigations often require hiring medical experts, accident reconstruction experts, design specialists, and other professionals.

  • Organize all data and documents related to your claim. From making sense of witness statements and police reports to compiling and adding together the various expenses that you have incurred directly related to your accident, having a team of professionals who can organize all data and documents related to your claim is important. This information will be used to determine the value of your claim, so it is critical that this process is comprehensive and exact.
  • File your claim and help you to understand the law. Filing a car accident claim or pursuing a lawsuit is a process that requires understanding of applicable laws and rules. Our Franklin car accident lawyer will not only help you to file your claim but will also help you to understand things like negligence, liability, a statute of limitations, subrogation, and more.
  • Negotiate your claim and litigate if appropriate. If an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement, your lawyer will review the settlement to ensure that it is fair and just. If it’s not, negotiations will ensue, led by your attorney. If a fair settlement cannot be reached that fully compensates you for your losses, your attorney can file a lawsuit and litigate on your behalf if necessary.

If you don’t think that you can afford a lawyer, consider that our attorney works on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will never have to pay any upfront or hourly fees. In fact, we don’t collect any payment unless you recover a settlement.

Contact a Franklin, Kentucky Car Accident Lawyer Today

Being involved in a car accident, especially a serious one that leads to expensive amounts property damage and injuries, can be a shocking experience. While you may be worried about your recovery and how you will afford things like medical expenses and costs of living while you’re unable to work, you can take comfort in the fact that our attorney is here to fight for you.

Take the first step toward recovering the compensation you deserve by reaching out to a reputable auto accident lawyer in your area.

wrongful death attorneys

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Mississippi

Few things in life are as tragic as losing a loved one suddenly and prematurely to an accident that didn’t have to happen. Dealing with your grief is challenging enough, but you may also be under tremendous stress from the financial impact of your family member’s death. This is especially true when he or she contributed some or all of the income to your family.

Those responsible for an untimely death should face accountability. Their actions might not have been criminal, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t negligent. A wrongful death lawsuit sends a strong message that your family member’s life mattered and negligence is simply not acceptable.

How Does Mississippi Define Wrongful Death?

Under Mississippi Code Section 11-7-13, wrongful death may fall into one of the following three categories:

  • A negligent, real, or wrongful act or omission
  • Unsafe appliances, machinery, or way of behaving
  • Breach of any type of warranty of fitness related to any item intended for consumption by human beings

State law allows those closest to the deceased to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the perpetrators if the case is such that he or she would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if the accident had not been fatal. It is similar to a personal injury lawsuit with the obvious difference being that the injured person died and someone else must step in to file a claim in his or her name. Product liability can fall under the umbrella of wrongful death lawsuits in addition to wrongful or negligent acts.

Who is Entitled to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Mississippi?

Under the Mississippi Section mentioned above, the following people may sue another person or organization for wrongful death:

  • The deceased person’s legal and surviving spouse
  • Surviving children or parents of the deceased person
  • Surviving brothers and sisters of the deceased person
  • A representative of the estate of the deceased person

If the person who wins a wrongful death lawsuit is a spouse and the couple has minor children, the settlement amounts is divided equally between them. A surviving parent or sibling can only file a case if the deceased has no living spouse or children, whether they are minors or adults. In this case, a court will split the settlement amount between the parents and siblings equally.

It’s important for anyone considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit to understand that it is a civil suit and it differs considerably from a criminal case. For starters, this type of lawsuit is filed by a family member of the fatally injured party. In a criminal case, a prosecuting attorney is the one to initiate charges. The other major difference is that liability is only determined in monetary terms. Criminal cases may involve jail time, probation, and other legal punishments.

What Types of Damages Might the Filing Party Receive?

Depending on the category of loss, damages received from a wrongful death case are paid directly to beneficiaries or to the estate of the deceased. The most common types of economic damages include:

  • Expenses associated with the funeral and burial
  • Medical costs associated with treating the injured person before he or she succumbed to the injuries
  • Payment for destroyed or damaged property

The purpose of compensation for economic damages is to pay the final bills related to the deceased person’s estate. Other types of damages are more subjective and paid directly to the successful party in a wrongful death lawsuit. Common examples here include:

  • Loss of companionship of the person’s spouse, parent, child, or sibling
  • Emotional and physical pain and suffering directly related to the untimely loss of a loved one
  • Cash value of the salary and benefits the deceased person would have earned at work if he or she had lived a normal life expectancy

The state may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party if the deceased has no immediate surviving family members, did not have a will, and did not leave instructions for selecting a personal representative. This is known as a survival claim. Proceeds from a survival claim first go to pay off the deceased person’s creditors and final expenses. Anything left over is paid to his or her heirs at law, which means blood relatives.

Mississippi does place caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. Death caused by medical malpractice is capped at $500,000 while death caused by product liability or pharmaceutical claims are capped at one million dollars each. No limit exists on economic damages such as medical bills, funeral expenses, or lost wages.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Mississippi

The time limit for filing a claim for wrongful death depends on how it occurred. You have one year from the date of your loved one’s death if it happened due to assault, battery, or another intentional act committed against him or her. You have three years to file in the case of negligence. If your family member didn’t die from his or her injuries immediately, it’s important not to confuse the date of incident or accident with the actual date of death.

Speak to an Experienced Mississippi Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Although the course of events that caused your loved one’s death may appear obvious to you, determining liability can be a long and complex process. For example, you could be dealing with multiple defendants in a product liability case. If you are dealing with a situation like this, you need strong legal counsel working hard to hold those who are responsible fully accountable.

Take the first step in the process by contacting a skilled and knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in your area.

Common Civil Litigation Issues

No one looks forward to a legal dispute. When you buy or sell real estate, or are a party to any transaction, you never envision that you will one day end up in a courtroom fighting over the terms of the agreement. Nevertheless, these disputes do arise and with some frequency.

Likewise, individuals and businesses have a duty to keep others from harm. Therefore, a severe injury or death is not something that you should have to shoulder alone if another party was at fault.

When you are unable to resolve a dispute without legal intervention, you need an attorney who is not afraid to go to court. Your legal advocate should also be someone who has a record of experience and success at both the trial and appellate levels.

Complex Civil Litigation Matters

Civil litigation involves formal legal disputes in which one party is alleged to have committed a wrong, but not necessarily a crime. Most civil litigation involves the process of one party bringing a lawsuit against another for certain damages. Some examples include:

  • Property Title, Boundary and Land Disputes. Land ownership and transfer can become complicated when there are disputes involving a clean title, boundary lines, and other contract issues. These problems can set back the closing of a sale or could prevent a buyer or seller from reaching a beneficial deal. Having legal assistance from an attorney to resolve these disputes as quickly as possible is the best way to protect your interests.
  • Construction Defect Litigation. When you buy or own a piece of property, you trust it will be free from construction defects. Sometimes, design professionals, engineers, and construction crews create issues that affect the integrity of a building, its safety, or both. Construction defect law is a specialized area that requires knowledge of contracts as well as insurance, toxic torts, product liability, engineering, and regulatory issues.
  • Auto Accidents and Personal Injury. If you are the victim of an auto accident or pedestrian accident or have a loved one who has lost their life due to the negligence of another party, you have the right to pursue full and fair compensation for your losses. These accidents can leave victims with life-changing injuries and damages, and a skilled personal injury attorney can help you obtain the reparations you need and deserve.
  • Divorce and Child Custody Disputes. If you haven’t filed for an agreed divorce, you may have child custody and other common disputes that arise when a marriage is dissolved.
  • Will Contests & Probate Disputes. Unfortunately, estate administration is not always a smooth process. This is the most common legal issue that can be lengthened thanks to contests by the parties involved. Sometimes will and probate disputes are legitimate, and others are driven by emotion. An experienced estate planning attorney can represent your family’s interests.
  • Business Torts. If another party caused financial harm to your business or is in breach of contract, you may have remedies under tort law. Common business torts involve construction issues, banking disputes, and problems with insurance coverage.
  • Breach of Contract. Perhaps the most common type of business litigation is a dispute involving breach of contract. A contract represents a legally-enforceable promise, and a failure to adhere to the terms of the promise could entitle the other party to remedies that include specific performance and a variety of damages.

Many of these legal disputes can be complex, particularly when you are facing another party that has deep pockets. If a corporation, their attorneys, or an insurance company is involved in your case, you will need a skilled litigator in your corner who can protect your rights either through negotiation or the court system.

The Importance of Appellate Law Experience for Civil Litigation Cases

We all know that mistakes are made from time to time. Some mistakes can that are made in a case can be devastating to the plaintiff. When you decide to appeal a civil decision, it’s essential to have the help of an experienced appellate law attorney.

Civil appeals are most common in tort law cases, which encompasses personal injury, liability, certain property disputes, and other issues where a court will weigh the different party’s obligations and rights. An appeal in a civil case may raise questions about monetary damages or the verdict itself.

Not all trial lawyers can or should engage in appeals since appellate law is a specialized type of practice that requires a different skill set than trial law.

In many states, there is just one allowable appeal per case. Beyond this, the higher courts can refuse to review your case. This is just one of the reasons why your appeal and choice in appellate attorney should both be as strong as possible.

Help from an Experienced Civil Litigation Attorney

Whether you have a complex litigation matter that you need help resolving or are unhappy with a case that has already been decided in the courts, it’s vital to have the help of an experienced civil litigation attorney. Contact an attorney in your area for a consultation to get started on your case.

atv accidents

The Dangers of ATV Accidents in Mississippi

All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are popular in Mississippi as a source of fun and transportation in some rural areas. Operating an ATV in Mississippi is entirely legal when done so within state and federal regulations.

It’s a fact that operating an ATV in the Magnolia State can be dangerous and even deadly. According to the state’s own Department of Health, Mississippians are 3.5 more likely to die in an ATV accident compared to the 2010 national average.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more 11,000 people died in ATV accidents in the U.S. between 1982 and 2014. Of those, more than 25 percent were under the age of 16. During that same period, 334 people died in Mississippi ATV accidents. In just 2014, there were more than 93,000 reported ATV injuries in the U.S., some with serious and catastrophic results.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a Mississippi ATV accident, or a loved one killed, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. There could be defects in the ATV that contributed to the accident or some aspect of the terrain that is to blame. With so many potential complications involved with these types of cases, it is wise to talk to an experienced ATV accident attorney about your situation. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can help you recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Common Causes of ATV Accidents

A typical adult ATV weighs as much as 600 lbs. and can reach speeds of 65 mph or higher. Some of the most common causes of ATV accidents include:

  • Defective Machinery. When an ATV isn’t designed properly or has defective parts, serious accidents can result.
  • Unsafe Operation. Many ATV accidents occur due to the driver’s negligence. Either they disregard rules, attempt unsafe maneuvers, or don’t pay attention to where they are going.
  • Inexperience. Riders who are unfamiliar with ATV operation and its various regulations are more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Speeding. Excessive speed is another common cause of four-wheeler accidents. Incredibly, some of these vehicles can reach speeds as high as 100 mph. When a driver loses control of speeding ATV, the results can be catastrophic for them and anyone in the vicinity.
  • DUI. Because these are recreational vehicles, people sometimes operate ATVs under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Not only is this illegal, but it can have tragic results.

Mississippi ATV Laws

Up until a few years ago, Mississippi was one of the few states in the nation that didn’t have ATV safety laws on the books. Fortunately, this has changed. In an effort to reduce ATV deaths and injuries, there are now several Mississippi laws aimed at protecting youth and all ATV riders.

ATV riders must now wear helmets, and underage operators are required to take a certification course. Even though a majority of ATV accidents happen on paved roads, it is now illegal to operate an ATV on public roadways because they don’t meet the safety standards of a motor vehicle.

ATV’s cannot be operated on public property and all operators must either possess a valid driver’s license or have completed an approved safety course. Fines for violation of Mississippi ATV laws are up to $50 per violation, which isn’t much of a deterrent for those who want to speed on public roadways or forgo other operational guidelines.

ATV Accident Injuries

Because ATV’s generally move at a high rate of speed and many operators don’t wear enough protective equipment, an ATV accident can result in extensive and devastating injuries. In 2009 alone, ATV injuries cost $1.3 million to treat at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s children’s hospital. Common ATV accident injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Amputations
  • Chest and abdominal injuries
  • Injuries to internal organs
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Facial injuries, including lost teeth and eye injuries
  • Burns Lacerations

Because ATV riders rarely wear helmets, the resulting accidents and injuries can be particularly severe. A traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury can require multiple surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation period as well as ongoing medical care. In some cases, a traumatic brain injury may not be readily apparent just after an ATV accident, which is why it is so important to seek immediate medical attention for the sake of your health and to protect your rights.

Who is Liable in an ATV Accident?

If you’ve been injured in an ATV accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from a negligent party. These include compensation for past and future medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitation, property damage, and wrongful death.

The primary issue in these cases comes down to whose carelessness caused the accident. If fault lies with someone other than the accident victim, you probably have a personal injury or wrongful death case. If a child is injured on an adult ATV, the owner of the ATV could be at fault for allowing that child to drive the ATV without adult supervision.

Even single-vehicle ATV accidents could have some recourse if there was something wrong with either the ATV or the terrain. A property owner could be sued for not having hazards, such as cliffs and craters, clearly marked. The ATV manufacturer could also be at fault for delivering a product with defective parts that led to a serious accident.

ATV rollover accidents are still common but less so today since the U.S. government outlawed the manufacture of 3-wheel ATVs in 1987. That type of ATV was found to be defective in its design, and we still have 2.4 million 3-wheelers in operation in this country.

Get Help from a Seasoned ATV Accident Lawyer

If you and your family enjoy using ATVs in Mississippi, it’s essential that you follow all of the state’s rules and regulations to reduce your chances of an accident. If you’ve been injured in an ATV accident or lost a loved one, it’s important that you speak with a knowledgeable ATV accident attorney as quickly as possible. Contact an attorney in your area to get started on your case.

personal injury case

What Can I Expect During my Accident Injury Claim in Mississippi?

You have sustained serious injuries caused by the careless actions of others and are now considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. One of the first questions on many people’s minds is how long they have to do this. Under the statute of limitations enforced by Mississippi law, you have three years from the date of the accident to sue the responsible party. This is true even if you didn’t connect your injuries to the accident until sometime later, which often happens with whiplash and muscle and tissue injuries.

Injured people also want to know what to expect when filing an injury claim and how much money they might be able to recover. While an experienced personal injury attorney can only provide a general estimate on the second question, they are usually very happy to explain the process to you, so you feel confident moving forward.

What You Need to Know About Mississippi’s Comparative Fault Rule

You shouldn’t feel surprised if the other party claims that you’re fully or partially responsible for causing your own injuries. Many people don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions or face the financial consequences of them. However, he or she still needs to prove it. If you do share any responsibility, Mississippi enforces a pure comparative negligence rule. That means the judge can reduce the amount of your lawsuit proceeds based on your percentage of fault.

The First Step: Meeting with a Personal Injury Attorney

Even when you possibly share some blame for causing your injuries, that doesn’t prevent you from filing a lawsuit to collect damages. In some cases, the divide can be as small as the plaintiff sharing one percent of the responsibility. After deciding to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you should meet with a personal injury attorney to discuss your case. Almost all personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you pay nothing for this initial meeting.

We recommend that you come prepared to make the most of this appointment. Gather as much information about your accident as possible, including locating a copy of the original accident report, names and addresses of witnesses, and copies of medical expenses. The attorney you meet with will ask you detailed questions about the accident, your injuries, and how the actions of the other party affect you today. Once the attorney has a clear picture of what took place, they will recommend whether you should proceed with the lawsuit.

Gathering Evidence and Presenting the Lawsuit

The next step is for your lawyer to start collecting evidence to prove that the accident occurred as you said it did. This involves reviewing medical records and the accident report as well as interviewing witnesses at the scene. It could also include working with an accident reconstruction specialist or another type of expert witness. We call this the discovery stage and it typically takes the longest of any part of your claim.

When your attorney feels confident that they have gathered enough information in the discovery phase, it’s time to present the other party with your lawsuit. They typically hire a process server to hand-deliver the notice of legal action. This person also obtains a signature from the recipient of the lawsuit to prove that he or she did in fact receive it. The defendant to the lawsuit then has 30 days to respond.

Negotiating Your Settlement

If the other party doesn’t respond to the legal notice of lawsuit, you win the case by default. It’s more likely that he or she will also hire a lawyer to fight or negotiate the settlement. The best-case scenario is that the defendant admits fault and his or her insurance company offers you a fair settlement. Unfortunately, it’s not common.

Defendants in lawsuits tend to argue their innocence or their insurance agent offers a settlement far too low to meet your needs. Your attorney would take your personal injury case to court in that situation and allow a judge and jury to decide.

How is Pain and Suffering Calculated After an Accident in Mississippi?

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident can be truly devastating. Bills for medical treatments will begin to pile up, and victims may find themselves unable to work for a period of time, or unable to return to work at all, leading to serious difficulties in covering costs for even the basic necessities, such as food and shelter.

Fortunately, with the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, Mississippi car accident victims will likely be able to quantify the amount of economic damages they have incurred and recover this compensation through a claim or lawsuit. Because these damages all have a related price tag, such as the cost of a medical procedure, or the amount of wages lost due to not being able to work, very little can be done to debate the amount reached through calculation.

But what about non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and the decrease in quality of life? How are these damages calculated in the aftermath of a serious car accident in Mississippi?

In general, it is far more difficult to determine the true cost of pain and suffering and other non-economic damages in the wake of a car accident in Mississippi. As such, if you have been injured, it is imperative that you reach out to a dedicated attorney immediately for assistance with your case.

Non-Economic Damages in Mississippi Car Accidents

As mentioned above, economic damages that are incurred after a car accident are those that have an associated price tag, such as medical bills and lost wages. And, in turn, non-economic damages are those that cannot be quantified, but still have a serious effect on the victim, such as loss of enjoyment of life or loss of consortium.

In general, non-economic damages are often simply termed pain and suffering and are a common occurrence after an accident. But how is it possible to put a number on this experience?

Overall, there are a number of different methods that may be used to determine a full calculation of pain and suffering damages, although two are generally utilized more than the rest: a per diem method and a multiplier method.

  • Per diem method: The per diem method, which simply means “per day,” uses a daily rate of damages to determine how much an accident victim should be awarded. For example, if the victim earns, on average, $100 per day at their job, and they are forced to wear a cast and experience significant pain for 50 working days, they may be awarded $5,000 in pain and suffering. Of course, the daily amount may be modified for a variety of reasons.
  • Multiplier method: In other cases, pain and suffering may be calculated using a multiplier, often between 1 and 5, based on the severity of the injury. For example, if an accident victim broke their leg in an accident and incurred $5,000 in medical bills, they may be awarded a multiplier of 3, and, in turn, recover $15,000 in additional non-economic damages. Of course, less serious injuries will have a smaller multiplier, and more serious injuries, including those that lead to permanent disabilities, will generally lead to greater awards.

How to Ensure You Recover the Compensation that You Deserve

Because damages for pain and suffering are incredibly difficult to quantify, many insurance companies will do as much as possible to deny you of your right to recover compensation. And in light of this, it is imperative that you take all precautions necessary to guarantee you are fully compensated for your injuries.

To begin, make sure that you attend all required doctor’s visits, and comply with suggestions made by any medical professionals. Failure to do so can be used as evidence by an insurance company that your pain and suffering is not truly that significant. Furthermore, consider keeping a “pain journal,” a daily record of the suffering you experience as you recover from your injuries. Even a simple daily amount of pain that you feel can be used as supporting evidence in your case.

These are only a handful of the many actions you should take (and avoid taking) in the aftermath of a car accident. And because recovering compensation for an accident is so complex, it is imperative that you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case. Evidence has a tendency to disappear rapidly over time, and the sooner you get an attorney involved, the better your chances of obtaining the full and fair compensation you deserve.

Take the first step now by contacting a skilled and knowledgeable Mississippi personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Filing for Bankruptcy in Glasgow, KY

Glasgow may be a city in Kentucky that is recognized for being the birthplace of multiple notable people ranging from major league baseball players to governors, its appreciate of Scottish culture, and its gorgeous historic homes, but it is also a city where more than 19 percent of individuals live below the poverty line. Indeed, financial woes are very real to many Glasgow residents, and some find themselves struggling under mountains of debt, wondering whether there will ever be an escape.

A skilled Kentucky can help you find a solution to your financial woes. Reach out to an attorney today for a consultation to discuss your situation.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that involves an individual appearing before a bankruptcy court, presenting evidence of debts, assets, and income, and asking the court to discharge those debts. Bankruptcy is one way for an individual who cannot pay their debts to acquire a degree of financial relief, but it is important to remember that there are different types of bankruptcies, not all debts are dischargeable, and that filing for bankruptcy often means losing property and taking a significant hit to one’s credit score.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

There are two primary types of bankruptcies that are available to individual consumers: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is only available to those individuals with few assets and little income; if you make too much money, you will not be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is designed to give you a fresh start by liquidating your assets, using these assets to pay creditors, and wiping out remaining debts (with the exception of certain debts that cannot be discharged).

Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for those debtors who have some income and are able to form a repayment plan in which they pay back a portion of their debts over a three-to-five year time period. Chapter 13 is often more advantageous for those who do have some income as it allows for the debtor to keep more assets in exchange for repayment.

The type of bankruptcy you will file will depend on numerous factors, including the means test.

Bankruptcy Means Test

Even if you want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be barred from doing so if you do not pass the means test. The means test is used to determine whether or not you have the income and assets to pay back a portion of your debts, rather than having all of your debts forgiven. You do not have to take the means test if you are a disabled veteran and your debt was incurred while on active duty, or if your debts are not primarily consumer debts.

The means test looks at your income or means. If your monthly income is less than the median household income for a household of your size in Kentucky, then you will likely pass the means test and be eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. There are some cases in which you may be able to qualify for Chapter 7 even if you make above the median income; discuss your case with a bankruptcy attorney to learn more.

Advantages of Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy has advantages and disadvantages. Two of the biggest disadvantages have already been listed: losing your property and suffering a negative hit to your credit score, which can of course prevent you from being able to get a loan, take out a line of credit, or even secure housing in the future.

While the disadvantages of bankruptcy should certainly be taken seriously, there are also a number of advantages, making filing for bankruptcy the best choice for individuals who do not have other debt relief alternatives available to them. These include:

  • Initiate the automatic stay. One of the most beneficial parts of filing for bankruptcy is that the moment that you file, the automatic stay will be initiated. The automatic stay places a mandatory hold on creditors’ ability to collect debt. This can give you some much-needed breathing room, and can provide relief when action against you was imminent, such as a foreclosure, lawsuit, etc.
  • Discharge debt. Of course, the other reason that many people choose to file for bankruptcy is because they simply have too much debt and too little income to ever be able to pay down their debt and discharging debt and starting over is a must. While not all debts can be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding, being released from liability for many debt types, including credit card debt, can provide a huge sense of freedom.
  • Keeping your property. Another major advantage to filing for bankruptcy, specifically Chapter 13 bankruptcy, is that doing so may allow you to keep property such as a house, car, and other personal assets. Indeed, in exchange for allowing you to keep your property, you pay off a portion of your debts overtime with a repayment plan. While repayment can be difficult, this can also be a very empowering experience.

Learn More About Bankruptcy Today

Bankruptcy is not something that you should rush into, and it’s not the right choice for all people in Glasgow who have debt, even if that amount of debt is oppressive. Before you make the decision to file for bankruptcy, we strongly encourage you to schedule an appointment with a local bankruptcy attorney today.

Peloton Treadmill Deaths

Peloton Treadmill Deaths

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has issued an urgent warning about the Peloton Tread + treadmill (Tread Plus) – that it poses a significant risk to children and pets. This after more than 20 children and pets have reportedly been dragged under the machine.

The CPSC has a video to show just how it happens. The $4,300 machine led to one toddler’s death in a tragic accident and another 39 incidents of injury including burns, scrapes, head injuries, and broken bones.

Peloton CEO John Foley sent out an urgent message, “I can’t tell you how much this news and horrible reality has hit me personally and our entire team at Peloton. While we are aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread Plus where children have been hurt, each one is devastating to all of us at Peloton.”

THE CPSC is also investigating a February incident where a three-year-old boy sustained a significant brain injury after being trapped. The CPSC reports that the toddler was trapped under the Peloton Tread Plus and found by his father to be pulseless. The little boy had tread marks on his back and marks on his face and neck.  He was resuscitated but now has a brain injury.

On the market since 2018, the machine enjoyed skyrocketing popularity during the COVID shutdown in 2020 when sales soared 135%.

For its part, the CPSC released a video of its own showing a toddler initially having his hands on a ball that is dragged under the treadmill. The toddler’s arms then go further under the machine with the ball, then the machine fails to stop and it continues to drag the child until his face is being sanded by the moving tread. After he pops out for a second his entire body is sucked under the machine.

Only when another trapped item, an inflated ball, lifts the treadmill high can the child wiggle free and runs off crying. This video shows a home gym setup where children also play.

The CPSC has not recalled the Peloton Tread Plus and neither has the manufacturer issued a voluntary recall. Instead, it says consumers should stop using the treadmill if there are small children at home or any pets. In some cases, injuries occurred when an unsupervised child had access to the machine, such as in the video released by the CPSC.

If that is not possible the CPSC urges people to have the machine in a locked room restricting access by children and pets.  Keep an exercise ball and any object away from the treadmill. When not in use, unplug the treadmill and keep the key out of the reach of children.

Peloton is the maker of bicycles, as well as treadmills and with the CPSC announcement, its stock price fell. CEO Foley had a problem with the CPSC stern warning saying there is no reason for adults to stop using the Peloton Tread + calling the warning “inaccurate and misleading.”

He issued another statement saying:

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s unilateral press release about the Peloton Tread+ treadmill is inaccurate and misleading. The Tread+ is safe for Members to use in their homes and comes with safety instructions and warnings to ensure its safe use. Like all motorized exercise equipment, the Tread+ can pose hazards if the warnings and safety instructions are not followed. The Tread+ is not for children under 16. Peloton warns Members not to let children use the Tread+ and to keep children, pets, and objects away from the Tread+ at all times. Any owner of a treadmill – whether made by Peloton or not – should follow these warnings, as they are included in the applicable safety standards, which the Peloton Tread+ meets.

At no time did Peloton try to impede the EPSC investigation insisted Foley, even though it refused for a month to release the name of the child who died.

Peloton Treadmill Design Fix

It seems the general design of any treadmill is a potential problem. According to the CPSC, there were more than 22,000 emergency room visits due to treadmill-related injuries.

Among those injuries about 2,000 were involved children under the age of 8. Additionally, there are some reports of pets being swept under the machines.

Meanwhile, Consumer Reports has pulled its recommendation for the Tread + based on the deaths and injuries, citing its capable of the type of injuries not seen in other treadmills.

At War with Safety Regulators

In answering why Peloton refused to give the name of the child killed to the CPSC for nearly a month, the Peloton CEO says he was trying to protect consumer privacy, not interfere with a federal investigation. It took a subpoena issued by the CPSC to force Peloton to hand over the information.

The CPSC can file a lawsuit if it decides to force a recall by Peloton without the company’s cooperation.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed in California. Shannon Albright of Rocklin, California, in the Northern District of California, says that Peloton has not conveyed the potential safety hazards of its machine and in fact, its advertising conveys images of parents and children in front of the product.

Citing a violation of the applicable consumer protection laws in the state, Albright is suing for $5 million in damages.

The case is Albright v. Peloton Interactive, Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 3:21-cv-02858, complaint 4/20/21.

 

Sources:

Washington Post, April 19, 2021
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/04/19/peloton-accidents-safety-battle/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/04/22/why-peloton-is-no-corporate-hero/

Fox
https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/peloton-sued-tread-child-safety

Bloomberg
https://news.bloomberglaw.com/product-liability-and-toxics-law/peloton-faces-consumer-lawsuit-over-tread-safety-issues

Paraquat Litigation

Paraquat Litigation

Paraquat is a highly toxic and widely used herbicide and, according to Friends of the Earth, is the “most acutely toxic herbicide” in the U.S.

Manufactured by the Swiss company, Syngenta, paraquat is used to kill various types of weeds in soybean fields and crops, including marijuana. According to the Department of Agriculture, on U.S. soybeans, the number of pounds used is up more than fourfold over the past decade.

If the smoke from the crop is inhaled, it can cause lung damage. And its use had doubled between 2006 and 2016 according to the National Water-Quality Assessment Project (NAWQA).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “one small sip can be fatal and there is no antidote.”

The Syngenta plant in Huddersfield, England produces the weed killer.

Its use has been banned in the European Union since 2007 and paraquat is being phased out in Brazil, and even China began phasing out use in 2012 “to safeguard people’s lives,” but in the U.S. last October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reregistered paraquat and agreed to allow its continued agricultural use here.

While the herbicide Roundup is the subject of about 125,000 lawsuits because of its suspected link to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple cancers, paraquat is just now emerging as the target of a growing number of product liability lawsuits with a suspected link to Parkinson’s Disease.

What regulators have not stopped, lawsuits may.

Uses for Syngenta Paraquat

Weeds have become resistant to Monsanto’s popular Roundup, so paraquat is marketed as an alternative.

Paraquat dichloride is also known as Gramoxone SL 2.0 Herbicide. Other names include:

  •       Para-SHOT
  •       Helmquat
  •       Parazone
  •       Firestorm
  •       Ortho-Paraquat
  •       Quick-Quat
  •       Devour
  •       Blanco

Paraquat products must be registered for use in the U.S. and they are considered Restricted Use Pesticide (RUPS). Because of its toxicity, any user must be a trained certified applicator.

The Link to Parkinson’s Disease

There has been a suspected link and emerging evidence linking paraquat to Parkinson’s for decades but a National Institutes of Health (NIH) meta-analysis of 104 studies and more than 3,000 citations was a game-changer. It showed elevated health effects, such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD) on farmers, and people living near the fields where it’s used.

Parkinson’s is characterized by tremors, body rigidity, and impaired balance which does not improve with treatment. Exposure to paraquat was associated with about a two-fold increase in risk.

A scientist with the National Institutes of Health, Freyda Kamel, said research on the link was “about as persuasive as these things can get.”

Health consequences have been known for years and a low level of exposure can even cause adverse health effects. They include:

  • Parkinson’s disease- paraquat exposure more than doubles the risk of developing Parkinson’s
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney injury
  • Liver injury and failure
  • Lung damage
  • Heart failure
  • Birth defects and stillbirths
  • A reduced sense of smell

Besides human exposure, paraquat lingers in the environment affecting amphibians, fish, and rabbits.

The Protect Against Paraquat Act, introduced in July 2019 will protect the environment and farm workers. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3817

H.R. 3817 has been referred to the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research calls for the EPA to cancel the registration for all uses of paraquat, to ban its sale and eliminate the existing stock of paraquat as well as ban its residue on food.

Paraquat Litigation

At least 14 lawsuits around the country have been filed by agricultural workers exposed to the herbicide who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. A motion has been filed to have the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) form an MDL in federal court in the Northern District of California.

Litigation claims the defendants failed their responsibilities to warn workers and failed to take any precautions to prevent exposure. There was a failure to properly instruct certified applicators to avoid toxic exposure.

For its part, Syngenta has long rebutted the link saying, “We would never market or continue to market any chemical which we genuinely felt posed a health risk or an environmental risk.”

But internal company documents show a debate within the company on how to make the product safer.

[See  Paul Rakoczy v. Syngenta Crop Protection et al., Case No. 4:21-CV-02083, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California; and Michael Joseph Kearns et al. v. Syngenta Crop Protection et al., Case No. 3:21-CV-00278, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.]

The lawsuits name Syngenta, the Swiss company, and Chevron USA, which held the rights to sell paraquat under a 1960s agreement. Syngenta is now owned by the Chinese National Chemical Corporation, ChemChina, after a 2016 merger.

For its part, Syngenta has long rebutted the link saying “We would never market or continue to market any chemical which we genuinely felt posed a health risk or an environmental risk.”

According to one law firm, that in March filed the first two product defect lawsuits against Syngenta, the company ignored and downplayed the known risks despite decades of research linking the weed killer to Parkinson’s Disease.

A trial is set for May 10 in St. Clair County Circuit Court in Illinois. Hoffman v Syngenta promises to show jurors that Syngenta knew for decades its product causes Parkinson’s Disease.

Litigators may also want to focus on each of the EPA’s Restricted Use Products (RUPs) that are coming up for review.  ###

 

Sources:
Mass tort nexus
https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/paraquat/FMfcgxwLtZmXLCDLlqHkszkwvzMslMhQ

 

New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/20/business/paraquat-weed-killer-pesticide.html

The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/apr/29/bee-harming-pesticides-banned-europe

Environmental Health News
https://www.ehn.org/pesticide-exposure-and-risk-for-parkinsons-disease-2652501248/scientific-studies

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/paraquat-exposure-alert-paraquat-linked-to-parkinson-s-disease-agricultural-workers

Beyond Pesticides
https://beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/2020/10/captured-by-extremist-pro-pesticide-agenda-a-broken-epa-reregisters-several-toxic-pesticides/

National Law Review
https://www.natlawreview.com/article/paraquat-exposure-alert-paraquat-linked-to-parkinson-s-disease-agricultural-workers