Senior Partner Rick Patterson Interviewed by The New York Times

After Stroke Scans, Patients Face Serious Health Risks

“What is amazing and seems painfully obvious is if someone walks in with a band of hair missing around the entire circumference of their head, you would ask the question: Have you had a CT scan?” said Richard A. Patterson, a Los Angeles lawyer who represents some of the patients. “Not ‘What did you eat for breakfast yesterday that would cause your hair to fall out today?’ ”

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Premises Liability

Premises liability laws define the legal duties of property owners to protect persons who come in contact with their property. The duty of care landowners owe an individual on their property may differ by jurisdiction. Some states follow common law, where the landowner’s duty may change depending on whether the person who enters their land was a licensee, invitee or a trespasser. The level of care a landowner owes to licensees or invitees may be much higher than to an individual who is on their property without permission (trespasser). The duty owed, in other words, may be determined by the relationship between the injured person and the property owner.

Landowners Legal Duty of Care

An invitee is any person who enters the owner’s property by invitation, whether actual or implied. When the property at issue is a public place or a business, an implied invitation is often found. Under this system, property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. If the person was invited to the landowner’s property, the landowners have the duty to warn their guest about any dangerous conditions on their property. The owners also have a duty to inspect their property to discover any hazards, and to correct or warn of any hazards they find, to make it safe for the invitee.

If the property owner does not keep invitees safe and they are injured as a result, the injured party may have a legal claim against the property owner, if they can show that the owner was negligent. There are exceptions, however — in many instances, if there is a dangerous condition on the property that is considered obvious to a reasonable person, the property owners may not have a duty to warn their guests of this condition.

A licensee is a guest of the property owner who entered the owner’s property with permission. Similar to invitees, if the individual on the property is a licensee the landowner also has a duty to warn him or her of any unsafe conditions on the property that are known to the landowner and would not be obvious to the licensee. However, the property owners do not have a duty to inspect the property to discover any hazards, as they would with an invitee.

Alternatively, under this system property owners usually have no duty of care to trespassers, unless the owners discover the trespassers on their property and know of a dangerous condition. In these limited situations, the owner would have a duty to warn the trespasser of the dangerous condition.

In recent years, several states have moved away from the common law designations of invitee, licensee and trespasser. In these states, the landowner owes a reasonable duty of care to any person or persons on their property, no matter whether the individual was invited, had the property owner’s permission to be there or did not have permission to be on the property. These jurisdictions do not base the property owner’s liability or duty to warn on the relationship between the owner and the individual on their property. Instead, owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe and warn others of hazards or dangerous conditions under any circumstances.

If you or a loved one have been injured while on the property of another, it is important to speak to a personal injury lawyer in your jurisdiction. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to tell you about the laws in your state, discuss your legal options, answer any questions you have and help you determine the best course of legal action for you based on the facts of your situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

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Preparing to Meet with your Personal Injury Attorney

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Nursing Home Injuries

In recent years, our media has highlighted nursing home injuries. It is an alarming and ongoing concern to the public. To meet this concern, state and federal laws have been passed to protect patients in healthcare facilities. Patients have specific rights that must be met by facilities and staff members. When these rights are not met and individuals are injured, they have the right to pursue compensation against those held legally responsible. Often, family members must make legal claims on behalf of their loved ones. If you or a family member has been injured, it is important to speak to an attorney to learn about your legal options and rights against nursing home abuse.

Rights of Nursing Home Residents

Residents of nursing homes or healthcare facilities are protected by state and federal laws. These laws guard patients against neglect, abuse and other mistreatment, whether physical, nonphysical or mental in nature. These safeguards are often referred to as the Patient Bill of Rights, and provide residents with basic rights to food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. Additional protections also include the right of residents to make their decisions regarding their medical treatment; the right to be fully informed and in control of their finances (unless the individual not longer has capacity to do so); the right to communicate with family members, doctors, other residents and participate in social activities of their choosing; and the right to be made aware of their facility’s administrative process and given access to that process if they so choose. Federal programs — such as Medicare — and state programs also protect residents against abuse and from the use of any physical or chemical restraint that is not deemed medically necessary. Patients have the right to their own safety. Often, if it is shown that facilities do not abide by these protections, they will not receive federal or state funding.

Parties Responsible for Nursing Home Abuse

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a nursing home, legal action may be possible. A victim of nursing home abuse may follow the facilities administrative process to file a complaint against the nursing home and/or staff members. The claim will generally be investigated by an adult protective services agency. Alternatively, an action may be filed in civil court for compensation for the injuries suffered by the victim — this is usually a negligence claim. Damages in civil court will be monetary in nature, intended to help compensate injured parties or loved ones for financial, emotional and mental losses. In serious cases, authorities may even take criminal action against the responsible parties.

In most cases, the claim against the nursing home will be for negligent treatment of the resident. Negligence claims may be against a variety of potential defendants, including nursing home employees or staff, or the facility itself. Likewise, negligence claims may differ based on the facts of the situation. Some examples may include negligent treatment of nursing home residents by staff members, negligent hiring of employees by the facility, or negligent maintenance of the facility itself. In addition, there may be criminal claims of assault or battery, or claims of exploitation — taking advantage of patients through undue influence, deception, threats or the individual’s inability to give legal consent (legal incapacity).

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Your Area

If you or your loved when has been injured while a patient in a nursing home or other healthcare facility, it is important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your circumstances, answer your questions and determine the most appropriate legal options in your situation.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

To read and print out a copy of the checklist, please follow the link below.

Preparing to Meet with your Personal Injury Attorney

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Copyright © 1994-2011 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured (or underinsured) motorist coverage is insurance provided to cover an individual who has been involved in an accident with someone that either has no insurance or does not have adequate insurance to pay for the full amount of damages suffered. Jurisdictions often require that uninsured coverage be provided as a part of all motor vehicle insurance policies.

What makes a driver uninsured or underinsured? Obviously, someone driving without any auto insurance at all would be categorized as uninsured. However, an individual may still be considered uninsured if his or her plan does not allow for full coverage of the injuries for which he or she is legally responsible. Uninsured motorist coverage is intended to protect policyholders — and their passengers — who were injured by the fault of an uninsured individual. If it can be shown that the uninsured party is not at fault, uninsured/underinsured provisions of an insurance policy will not apply and the injured party’s may not recover for their injuries under that theory.

If you or a loved one were injured in a motor vehicle accident and the at-fault driver does not have insurance, it is important to speak to a personal injury attorney in your area to answer your questions and discuss your legal options.

Persons Included in Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage provisions may differ from state to state. In most jurisdictions, the covered persons may include the insurance policy holder, family members who live in the same home as the insured, passengers in the vehicle when the accident occurs, pedestrians injured by the vehicle and/or the driver of the vehicle during the accident. Other jurisdictions may have coverage exclusions regarding the policyholder’s family members, if the family members possess their own insurance policy. However, in these jurisdictions the insured’s policy may not exclude family members in certain circumstances.

Likewise, state laws may determine if employees are covered under their employer’s uninsured or underinsured policies. In some states, employees are covered by their employer’s insurance policy if they are injured in a motor vehicle accident while in the business of the employer. This may mean driving their own automobile as a part of their job or at the direction of their employer; these state laws regard the employee’s personal vehicle as engaged by the employer. However, according to other state statutes, employees injured while using their own vehicles will not be covered under their employer’s corporate insurance policy, even if the employee is driving for business purposes. The fact that the employee was using his or her own automobile excludes that employee from the definition of the insured (corporate employer) that is covered by the insurance policy. To learn more about persons included and excluded by uninsured motorist coverage insurance policies, speak to an attorney in your state about your situation and the applicable laws.

Recovery for Your Injuries

Individuals covered by an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy may be compensated for their personal injuries, not injuries to personal property. The injuries suffered and costs incurred by the injured party may differ depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the severity of the injuries sustained. Some examples of recovery may include reimbursement for medical costs, future healthcare treatment costs, lost wages, loss of future income, pain and suffering, loss of companionship and (in some cases) wrongful death. Damages will differ based on the injuries and the laws in your state, please speak to a personal injury attorney to learn more about recovery for your injuries.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

To read and print out a copy of the checklist, please follow the link below.

Preparing to Meet with your Personal Injury Attorney

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Copyright © 1994-2009 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.

Personal Injury: Cruise Ship Injuries

Cruise ships have become a popular vacation choice in recent years. People want to get away from the stresses of daily life for a vacation at sea. However, even though such vacations are intended to be carefree, passengers or crewmembers may still be injured aboard a cruise ship.

Most often, the ship’s owners will be held legally responsible for any injuries that take place on their ship. Ship owners have a legal duty to protect persons on their ship from any known or likely dangers and to supply reasonably safe surroundings for ship patrons and staff. However, there are different laws and legal claims that may apply depending on the type of injury sustained, the circumstances surrounding the injury and the person who was injured.

Injured Passenger

Paying patrons aboard cruise ships may be injured in a variety of ways: a slip and fall; food poisoning due to tainted food served or prepared by cruise ship staff members; assault by another passenger or crew member; or and injury due to the action or inaction of a ship’s medical staff member. If the passenger’s injury was due to negligence, the injured party (or the injured party’s loved ones) may have a claim against the owner of the cruise ship. In order to prove negligence, the injured party must prove the elements of negligence to the court: a duty running from the responsible party to the injured passenger, a breach of that duty, and an injury caused by that breach. While this may seem complex, a personal injury attorney can help you determine whether you may have grounds to file a negligence claim for your cruise ship injury.

Crewmembers

If a crewmember was injured while working aboard a cruise ship, he or she may have a claim for damages against his or her employer — the cruise ship owner. Cruise ship staff members are protected by the Jones Act, which is a federal act that protects injured seamen and gives them a legal right to damages against their employer, if the employer’s negligence has caused their injuries. An injured crewmember must prove the same elements of negligence to the court that an injured passenger must prove. If the injured party proves these elements and the cruise ship owner is held legally responsible by the court, the employer may be liable to the injured party for compensation for the damages sustained as a result of his or her injury.

What happens if a crewmember was not injured, but actually caused an injury to a fellow crewmember or passenger? This usually occurs in the context of medical negligence or battery. In some jurisdictions, if a cruise ship staff member injured another person, the owners of the cruise ship may be held liable for their employees’ actions. In other jurisdictions, the cruise ship owners will not be held liable for the actions of crewmembers unless the injured party can show that the owner knew that the crewmember was violent or dangerous and did nothing to prevent the injury that occurred, or that the crewmember was negligently hired by the owner. Claims against the employer may differ depending on the facts of the case, applicable law and jurisdiction.

Contact an Attorney

Most personal injury lawsuits that stem from incidents that took place aboard cruise ships will rest on federal maritime law. However, there are some cases where state or foreign law may apply. The applicable law depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the injury. For this reason, it is important to seek a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your situation. An attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have, ascertain the applicable law in your case and help you determine which legal path is the most appropriate for you, based on your legal rights and the facts of your case.

Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney

To read and print out a copy of the checklist, please follow the link below.

Preparing to Meet with your Personal Injury Attorney

You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Copyright © 1994-2009 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.