Posts made in August, 2013

Assigning Fault in Bicycle Accidents

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Bicycle Accidents, Personal Injury | 1 comment

It can be both difficult and frustrating to bring an action against a negligent motorist. The laws in some states are more restrictive than others to the plaintiffs, mostly because there are states that make use of a pure contributory negligence rule when determining if a plaintiff is or is not eligible for compensatory damages in cases of bicycle accidents.

Much like pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents can happen out of the blue, and even if a car is not speeding, the damage can be devastating. The average number of people admitted for injuries due to bicycle accidents in the US a year is 500,000, and that is 2010, 618 people died. It is entirely possible that some bicycle accidents are partly the fault of the bicyclist, but in most cases the driver is mostly responsible. However, mostly responsible will not cut it.

Under the pure contributory negligence rule, if the plaintiff is in any way responsible for the accident, even to the smallest degree (1%), recovery of damages will not be happen. Some states have laws that require the plaintiff be completely fault-free, something that can be difficult to prove without the proper documentation such as witness accounts and maybe closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, if available.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but Massachusetts personal injury lawyers can navigate the complex shoals of the tort claim legal process. If you have sustained injuries or a family member died as a result of a bicycle accident, don’t attempt to file the case on your own. Have competent legal representation on your side; there are usually no up front fees for the good lawyers in the area, and the contingent fee is normally 20% of the award. Additionally, the knowledge of a trained and certified lawyer can do a lot to build a successful case that has better chances of reaching the stage where an award can be won.

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Computing Virginia Workers’ Compensation

Posted by on Aug 28, 2013 in Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury | 1 comment

When you get injured on the job through an accident or from other work-related reason and you are incapable of going back to work immediately, it can make it hard to make ends meet. That is why the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) was formed to oversee the ordering and dispensing of benefits for injured workers. However, it may not be a simple matter at all, especially in Virginia.

Virginia is particularly employer-friendly, and any claims made to the VWC for workers, whether for workers’ compensation or personal injury tends to be favorable to the employer. In fact, under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer is immune from personal injury claims except in rare cases when an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits. There are also many pitfalls and rules that can derail a claim before it can even get started. It is therefore important that any VWC claim is handled by a lawyer who has a deep knowledge and wide experience with the laws governing workers’ compensation.

When it comes to workers’ compensation, Virginia puts a limit to how long (500 weeks) that an employee can claim benefits except in cases of total and permanent disability which will keep the injured worker from returning to work at all. These benefits, most particularly the weekly payments are computed based on the worker’s earning capacity within the previous 52 weeks, and is typically 66 2/3 %, not exceeding 100% and not lower than 25%. Exceptions are made for AmeriCorps members and Food Stamp Employment and Training Program participants, which are not eligible for workers’ compensation at all. More recently, maritime employees are also barred from claiming workers’ compensation from the VWC.

Again, the process is not as simple as it seems. There are certain conditions under which a worker can claim more benefits under the VWC, under another federal or state program, or through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Computing for the maximum compensation an injured worker in Virginia requires extensive knowledge about workers’ compensation laws. Since reputable injury law firms require no upfront fees and pass through the VWC to approve contingent fees, an injured worker will have nothing to lose and everything to gain by engaging a good lawyer to file for VWC claims.

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Pure Contributory Negligence and Pedestrian Accidents

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Car Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Personal Injury | 0 comments

It is entirely possible that a person who goes out to buy bread may end up injured or dead because of the negligence of others. Many motorists fail to observe the speed limit, protocol at intersections, stop and yield traffic signs, and crosswalks. It only takes one instance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time for life to take a wrong turn. Some drivers are not even aware of people they hit until the moment of impact, although this does not mean that the driver cannot be held liable. If the driver hit someone completely unawares, it’s because they should have probably been paying closer attention to their surroundings.

People don’t seem to understand how dangerous driving is and often fail to pay the requisite amount of attention to the road. In most states, a modified form of comparative negligence is observed in pedestrian accidents. This means that a pedestrian who is injured or dies as a result of a third party’s negligence at the wheel may file a personal injury or wrongful death suit (by a qualified relative) even if he or she is partly to blame as long as it is not more than 50 or 51 percent, depending on the state.

Virginia and North Carolina, however, are two of the 5 states that use the pure contributory negligence rule in pedestrian accidents. This means that if the pedestrian is partly to blame i.e. not using a crosswalk even to the smallest degree, a civil tort claim will not be allowed and no awards will be forthcoming. This may seem a little harsh, but that is the law in North Carolina and Virginia. However, there are exceptions to this rule such as the last, clear chance doctrine, and the process of filing a personal injury case for pedestrian accidents in general can be a difficult and complex process. This is especially true for Virginia and North Carolina where the burden of proof against the defendant is not on the plaintiff, but it has to be proven that the defendant was wholly responsible. This can be next to impossible without the assistance of aggressive and experienced legal representation conversant with the laws of both Virginia and North Carolina.

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Virginia Maritime Workers Must Claim from the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury | 0 comments

As of July 2012, persons engaged in maritime work, including longshoremen, dock workers, port or harbor clerks and checkers, forklift operators—in short, anyone working within navigable waters or employed in work connected with ships, shipbuilding, water transport or delivery may no longer put in a claim under Virginia’s workers’ compensation program but only under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA). In the article, the advantages of claiming under LHWCA rather than workers’ compensation in Virginia were enumerated, and it is undoubtedly an improvement.

However, it must be remembered that the statute of limitations for making an LHWCA claim is one year instead of the two under workers’ comp, and that the LHWCA is a federal, not a state, program. As such, it would be imperative to have the right kind of legal assistance and aid to ensure that a claim is carried out successfully. Making any kind of claim with the federal government can be a tedious and complex task that few lay people can accomplish on their own, especially if the injury sustained resulted in a long hospital stay, disability, or death. Gathering together the documents needed not only for making an LHWCA claim and a possible tort claim against the employer, if applicable. As pointed out in the abovementioned article, employers and general contractors have no immunity against a civil action for people who make an LHWCA claim.

If you are unfortunate enough to need to make an LHWCA claim and perhaps file a personal injury suit, choose a lawyer with a thorough knowledge and extensive experience in handling cases involving maritime law as well as personal injury cases in your state.

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