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Taxes and Your Personal Injury Settlement

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holidays are over, spring just arrived, and a lot of us are preparing for tax season and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies this time of year. I’m a simple fella from Parkersburg, West Virginia. It only takes me about 30 minutes to complete my tax return. As a single person with no kids, I keep my expectations low regarding returns. If I am lucky, I’ll have enough money in my refund to buy some new bedding and possibly get some new sconces for my bedroom. Not everyone has it as simple as I do. For instance, my sister once won a “Rock, Paper, Scissors Contest” sponsored by Anheuser-Busch. Yes, you read that correctly. The result of her “championship” was a free trip for two to Las Vegas for the national Rock Paper Scissor Championship Tournament. Once again, this is all real. It was on TV and everything. Between the flight, hotel, and other prizes, the trip was valued at over $4,000. Come tax time, my sister had to count this as income and pay taxes on the prize. Luckily for my sister, she didn’t have to pay too much on a $4,000 prize. However, if you are awarded something like a new car, or a fancy vacation, or really, most prizes valued over a specific amount, you must pay taxes on the prize. This is why so many people forfeit whatever base model car they win on “The Price is Right.” Recently, a friend of mine asked me if she would have to count her personal injury settlement as income the way prize winners do. I honestly didn’t know, so I thought I’d dive into this topic deeper.

I was hoping to find a simple yes or no answer when I started researching this topic. However, I realized I was dealing with both taxes and law, so I was a tad naïve to think anything would be simple. The quick answer no, you don’t have to pay income tax on your personal Injury settlement. So, you may be thinking, “are there exceptions to the rule? We’re dealing with the government, so, of course, there are exceptions.

The official statement from the IRS is as follows:

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury or sickness in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable. Do not include the settlement proceeds in your income.

(BUT)

If you receive a settlement for personal physical injuries or physical sickness, you must include in income that portion of the settlement that is for medical expenses you deducted in any prior year(s) to the extent the deduction(s) provided a tax benefit. If part of the proceeds is for medical expenses you paid in more than one year, you must allocate on a pro rata basis the part of the proceeds for medical expenses to each of the years you paid medical expenses. See Recoveries in Publication 525 for details on how to calculate the amount to report. The tax benefit amount should be reported as “Other Income” on line 21 of Form 1040. (read the entire IRS Publication here)

If you have received a settlement from a personal injury claim, and you’re not sure if you used any of your settlement for medical expenses, or if you just have general tax questions, it may be beneficial to consult an accountant. Keep in mind that many accountants focus on taxes just like we focus on Personal Injury Law. Another option is a step by step accounting program. Many of these pop up during tax season, and some offer live help either by text chat or video conference.

If you’d like to know more about the types of services we offer, or if you’d like to talk to someone about your personal injury claim, call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’re not available to chat now, fill out this form so that we may contact you at a later time.

What You Need to Know About Rental Car Recalls

Last year I rented approximately 12 cars. This year I plan to rent just as many. I enjoy renting because there is far less wear and tear on my own car. I am also in the market for a new vehicle. So, renting allows me to do more than just test drive a car, I get to spend a few days with a potential car. Honestly, my joy of renting goes far beyond testing cars. When I pull up to my local Enterprise location I channel Ryan Bingham from the film “Up in the Air.” They sometimes allow me to choose my own car, and it feels almost Godlike. Maybe I take things a bit too far at the rental agency, but it’s one of my few joys in life. I recently found out some troubling news that made renting a little less majestic. Until the spring of last year, rental car companies did not have to abide by recall notices. In other words, they could rent cars to people that were possibly dangerous.

First the good news; it’s no longer allowed. It’s federal law now that a rental car company must fix any recalled car before it’s rented out to the public. Once again, until the late spring of 2016, it was common practice to rent defective cars to individuals. In the past, there were several cases of individuals dying as a result of renting a recalled car. However, the case that eventually led to the federal law occurred 10 years ago. In 2004 Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed when the cabin of their rented Chrysler PT Cruiser when it filled with the smoke. The driver was blinded by the smoke, lost control, crossed the median, and struck a semi truck. The parents of the victims sued Enterprise Rent-a-Car citing negligence. The PT Cruiser was involved in a recall one month prior to the rental. There was an issue with a leaky power steering hose that could result in a fire. That is what occurred with these two victims, and eventually, Enterprise admitted to their wrongdoing. In 2010 the parents were awarded $15 million dollars in damages.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely dealt with a safety recall before. Most people know that the cost of these repairs are covered by the manufacturer. This includes the recall issued by Chrysler back in 2004 for the PT Cruiser. If that is the case, why didn’t Enterprise have the vehicle fixed? The following was originally published in a findlaw.com blog in 2010:

According to a sworn statement by Mark Matias, manager of Enterprise’s Northern California area, it was regular company procedure to go ahead and rent a recalled car, even before the repair work had been done. Matais said the known company policy was this, “you’ve got to keep booking because you don’t know when you are going to get a car back. But then, of course, you run short on vehicles, and if all you have are recalled vehicles on the lot, you rent them out. It was a given. The whole company did it.”

Matais concluded, “If a priority recall appears on the computer screen in the rental office, the employee is required to write the word ‘recall’ on a Post-it note and place it on the key in an area designated for non-rentals, but nothing prevents an employee from renting that vehicle.”

Twelve years later, thanks in part to efforts made by the parents of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, it’s illegal for a rental company with more than 35 cars in their fleet to rent you a defective car. Unfortunately, it’s not illegal for a dealer to sell you a car with recall notices.

If you’ve been injured because of a defective vehicle, give us a call today for a free consultation and take some time to learn about the services we offer. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we’ll call you at a better time.

What You Need to Know About Punitive Damages

I was struggling to find something to write about today. I went to lunch to clear my mind. I drove to my closest McDonalds to fill up on some Chicken McNuggets and fries. As I was sitting in line, waiting to get my food, I knew what I was going to write about when I returned to the office.

The world was a much different place in 1992. The war in the Persian Gulf was behind us, the Summer Olympics were on their way to Barcelona (whatever happened to Dan vs. Dave,) and we were introduced to Crystal Pepsi. However, it was another beverage that made headlines in 1992. One hot cup of coffee would change the way a nation looked at lawsuits.

Even if you weren’t alive in 1992 you probably know something about the lawsuit involving McDonald’s and an older lady who spilled coffee on herself. It’s just another case of someone making millions because of their own negligence, right? Well, not exactly. What most people know is the bad early 90’s comedian version of that lawsuit. It’s far from the truth. There is a good chance that most of what you know about that case is wrong. However, Jay Leno and the writers of Jerry Seinfeld didn’t take the time to fact check the case. Laughs were more important.

In February 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto herself and suffered 3rd-degree burns on 6% of her body. She was hospitalized for 8 days and had to receive skin grafts. The coffee Stella was served was 158 degrees. At the time, a Cincinnati burn center warned that anything over 130 degrees is dangerous.

Stella originally offered to settle the case for $20,000 to cover the cost of her medical bills. McDonald’s refused that offer, and the case went to trial. The jury awarded Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. This amount was reduced to $160,000 because the jury found Liebeck 20 percent at fault in the spill. The jury also awarded Liebeck $2.7 million in punitive damages, which equals about two days of McDonalds’ coffee sales. Eventually, Ms. Liebeck settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Most people just assume the facts of that case were that someone spilled coffee on themselves and received millions of dollars. While we aren’t sure early how much she received, she did not ask for a million dollars originally. She was awarded punitive damages (which damage amount was altered, too). Punitive damages is the key thing to take away from this case. Do you know what punitive damages are? Honestly, until I worked for a law firm I did not know much about punitive damages. Think of them as a way to punish a person, group, or organization for negligence. According to the Cornell University School of Law, punitive damages are awarded in addition to actual damages in certain circumstances. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are awarded when the defendant’s behavior is found to be especially harmful. In this case, the punitive damages were awarded because McDonald’s showed negligence and had ignored hundreds of prior complaints about their coffee. Punitive damages are traditionally awarded in situations in which a person or organization acted with gross negligence or they had some sort of intentional misconduct.

A personal injury case, especially one that may involve punitive damages, can be difficult. The right attorney can help you navigate your way through the maze. Call us today for a FREE consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Springtime Driving Hazards

It’s March here in West Virginia, and that can only mean one thing; the weather will change practically on the hour. Many people only think that winter brings driving hazards, but that’s not true. The onset of spring can cause trouble for a lot of motorists too. The flowers may be in bloom, and the birds may be chirping, but that does not mean that the roads are any safer. Let’s look at some driving hazards motorists need to be aware of in spring.
1. Changing weather conditions. We had a very mild winter this year and I am the first to kick on a pair of shorts for the spring. However, weather patterns during this time of year fluctuate quite a bit. We can have bright sunshine one day with temperatures in the mid 60’s while the next day may see snow flurries and temperatures below freezing. These sudden changes can catch a lot of drivers off guard. Further, with the onset of more rain in the early spring, and continuing low temperatures, there is still a major possibility for black ice.
2. Keeping excess rain in mind, flooding of rural roadways is quite common in the spring. A flooded roadway is a danger for many reasons. Obviously, if the water is deep enough, your car can be carried away by the current, and a driver can easily be killed by this neglect. However, even a roadway that is barely covered by water can have many hidden dangers. There may be hidden debris in the road, large pot holes, or even missing pieces of the road.
3. Distracted driving is still a problem in the spring. You’ve likely heard countless times about how so many people use their phones while driving. However, warm weather brings out the old school distracted drivers too. As the weather becomes more pleasant, drivers are more apt to roll their windows down, turn their stereos up, and pay less attention to the road in front of them.
4. Animals don’t take the spring off. If you live here in West Virginia, you are used to deer terrorizing our roadways. Most people associate these animals with the fall, however, they are still a hazard. Other animals are also more prominent during the spring. Some animals may be coming out of hibernation during the spring, and thus are more active, and likely to be crossing the road during the spring.
5. After a long winter people are suffering from cabin fever and have a desire to leave their homes. This means people are more active on the roadways. People are more likely walking on the roads and engaging in outdoor activities. You may encounter more people riding bikes and motorcycles.
6. Poorly maintained vehicles. After a long winter, many people have worn out parts on their cars that need replacing. People may have windshield wipers that need repair, worn brakes, even bald tires. Too often a motorist will let these repairs go because they don’t associate spring with poor driving conditions.
7. Severe storms are more likely to occur between March and May. This means that there is a greater chance for fallen trees, downed power lines, and other road hazards. Further, driving in severe storms can be difficult due to visibility.
Take some time this year to make sure your car is in good driving condition and be sure to make yourself aware of these additional road hazards this spring. A little preventative maintenance can go a long way. Making a plan before you leave, and avoiding driving in adverse conditions can also be beneficial. If you are involved in an accident, be sure to give us a call to learn about the services we provide. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form to talk to one of our associates at a more convenient time.

10 Driving Tips for the Last Minute shopper

It’s Christmas Eve, a Saturday, and our economy is doing better than it has in years. If you need to shop today, you may be experiencing the perfect storm of shopping hazards. It’s no secret that conditions on the road get worse as the Christmas Holiday draws near. People are impatient, traffic is a mess, and no one wants to pay attention to their surroundings. However, with a little preparation, and a clear mind, you too can shop safely this weekend. Here are 10 Driving Tips for the Last-Minute Shopper.

  1. Plan your trip in advance. Too often people waste time and get distracted by heading into a shopping center without a plan. Any major shopping center will be congested this weekend. Try to plan where you want to go in advance. I made the mistake of trying to buy a gift on my lunch break yesterday. This was a huge mistake. I had no time to get what I need and I was almost involved in two accidents. Plan your route out before you go, and try to make use of surface roads or roadways that may be less congested. I personally have a special way of getting to my local mall that saves a lot of time and avoids dangerous intersections.
  2. Don’t drive distracted. This is a perfect rule for any time of year, but especially the holidays. You’re going to be experiencing much more congestion than you are used to. There will be a lot more opportunities to wreck. No one needs to see your Snapchat photo of what it’s like to sit in traffic. From a social media standpoint, that’s basic. We all know what it feels like to sit in traffic. From a safety standpoint, you’re acting in a dangerous way that may end with you getting a ticket.
  3. Lock your doors. This may seem obvious, but take a second to make sure your key fob is actually locking your doors. A few years ago, my key fob failed, but I was unaware of it for several weeks. I used it to lock and unlock my doors. But I would always wait until I was a few steps away from the car to hit the button. It turns out that my car was still honking when I pushed the button, but the doors were not locking. As soon as you get out of your car, hit your lock button, and make sure your doors are indeed locked.
  4. Don’t rely on your driving aids alone. Backup cameras are fun, but they are meant to aid you in your reversing. Be sure to use your mirrors and look around you as well when backing out of a parking lot. Also, if there is a bunch of salt on the road, your cameras will probably
  5. Don’t show off your purchases to potential thieves. My car is always a mess and I don’t utilize my storage space properly. I have a lot of stuff in the back seat taking up space and my trunk is full. So, most thigs that I buy are out in the open for everyone to see. Further, my car has very large non-tinted windows. It’s almost as bad as putting a sign on the roof that reads “please rob me.” It is easy for thieves to look in my car and see my purchases. So, you and I both need to see what we can do to hide our stuff. I’ve always been jealous of SUV owners because so many of these vehicles have shades for the back of the vehicle. Plus, many SUVs have dark tinted windows in the back. Between the dark tint and the cargo shade, it’s almost impossible to see in the back of most SUVs. There are other ways to hide your belongings, though. Hide things under the seat, make use of glove boxes, or even simply cover your items with a coat or tasteful sweater.
  6. Try not to leave your auto in one spot for too long. I love shopping at the Easton Town Center in Columbus. It’s not so much a mall as it is a shopping destination. It’s kind of like Jurassic World meets retail therapy. I’ve been there for more than 8 hours in one trip before. I’ve left my car in the same are for the entire time too. In fact, I walked back with my purchases to the car, put them inside and then left to go have dinner and watch a movie. If a thief was watching my activity, he/she would notice that my car had sat for a while, and it would be a good opportunity for them to break into my car. As a side note, I claim to have been cursed with amazing taste, so criminals definitely want my purchases.
  7. Good lighting is a must for perfect selfies, safe parking. I tend to park as far away from the entrance of stores as possible. It keeps my car from getting scratched up by irresponsible motorists and rogue shopping carts, but it usually means poor lighting. If you’re in an area with poor lighting you’re more likely going to be a target for someone to attack you or break into your car. Plus, the closer to the store you park, the more likely your car will be on a surveillance camera. Thieves are less likely to steal if there are witnesses or cameras nearby.
  8. Shopping Buddies make great friends and security guards. It’s no secret that shopping alone during the holidays can be difficult. It’s always a good idea to take someone with you. A lot of men will likely ignore this because they feel as if they are invincible. I am a large guy who is 6’4.” But if I am by myself and have to fight a group of people or one Rhonda Rousey, I am not going to win. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  9. Be aware of where you’re shopping. Once again, I travel to Columbus to shop often. I know which communities to avoid. In larger cities, there are places to shop that are in safer areas than others. Try to avoid areas with higher crime rates if possible.
  10. If you’re going to use Social Media, don’t tag your location. I am a social media guru. I love it all and know how to use it quite well. Let’s say we were all hanging out at a large shopping center like the Easton Town Center in Columbus. Well, if I get on Instagram, I can simply type Easton Town Center and Instagram will show me all the most recent photos taken there. As luck would have it, the third picture that showed up was a photo of someone’s vehicle, parked next to a sign for the garage they were in. Their caption said that they would return in an hour. So, in one post, I knew exactly where their vehicle would be, how long they’d be gone, the license number, and when I clicked on his account, I saw exactly what he looked like, so I would know if he was near his vehicle. Plus, he parked in an area where there would not be many witnesses. This is not smart. Do not geotag yourself.

Use these tips, common sense, and do a little planning this weekend and you’ll likely be fine. However, if you are involved in an accident, or if you’re injured, call us for a free consultation. Our Toll-Free number is 1-877-526-3457. If now isn’t a good time, fill out this form and we will be happy contact you at your desired time.

Parkersburg Car Wreck and Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful death lawsuits are never an easy ordeal – especially for those being sued in criminal or civil courts. Like the term suggests, wrongful death revolves around cases where someone has sadly passed away due to negligence on the part of another. This can include DWI, DUI, job-related mishaps, and especially automobile accidents. These situations are emotionally exhausting and leave permanent scars for family members that have to live with the loss of loved ones or friends. However, families do have a legal right to file wrongful death lawsuits to recover damages, restitution, and other finances for medical bills, burial costs, and other fees. No truer is this than for those that have lost loved ones due to medical malpractice and through no faults of their own.

Parkersburg Automobile Wreck Attorneys

With years of extensive legal experience, a Parkersburg car wreck lawyer specializes in all types of wrongful death cases. In fact, they have helped countless families secure restitution for loved ones that have passed away due to negligent or absent-minded drivers. The first step in any wrongful death case is to secure a complimentary consultation with a local attorney. This allows lawyers to do the following:

  • Listen carefully to your concerns and gather information about the situation or case.
  • Advise you on the best steps to take on filing wrongful death lawsuits against those responsible – this includes drivers, physicians (medical malpractice cases), employers (job-related accidents that resulted in death), and others.
  • Explain to you the legal processes, proceedings, and steps needed in taking your case to court – jury cases or judges.
  • Helping you gather all information and evidence that will strengthen your case and claim – coroner’s reports, hospital reports, doctor’s reports, police investigation reports, and other materials related to your case.

With just one phone call or e-mail, you will truly get the legal representation and services you deserve. Parkersburg attorneys are committed to excellence in all legal cases – and will truly fight all the way to protect your rights –and especially that of deceased loved ones or friends. Attorneys also work hard to ensure the person or persons responsible are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This includes possible jail time, along with paying for emotional duress, distress, burial costs, medical fees, and any debt related to the wrongful death case.

Plaintiffs or Defendants

As legal experts in a challenging and competitive industry, there are times when attorneys have to protect the rights of defendants. Remember, in the U.S.A – you are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. With this in mind, defendants who believe they are innocent deserve the same legal rights and services that plaintiffs get. No truer is this then when it comes to automobile accidents that were caused by all parties involved. The same can also go for medical professionals who endlessly tried to save the life of your loved one – but were unable to due to natural death or other complications during surgery. Defendants may also countersue plaintiffs if they have experienced mental anguish, blame, torment, and loss of name and income due to any unfortunate circumstance where a person has died. It will be up to the attorney or firm to decide who they will represent.

Types of Wrongful Death Cases

In order to file a wrongful death claim with a Parkersburg law firm, you must first understand the different types of cases or lawsuits available. This is imperative since it will protect your legal rights while ensuring the parties responsible are sued in a timely manner – and especially before statute of limitations run out. According to Parkersburg car wreck and wrongful death attorneys, the following are considered the most common types of claims:

Car Accidents

With over 300,000 lives lost each year due to car accidents, automobile wrecks are definitely the most common and recurring claim filed by family members or friends. After accidents, injured drivers, passengers, and especially family members are left to deal with medical bills, insurmountable debts, and especially loss of household incomes. Wrongful death claims – especially when a family member has died – usually happens as a result of:

  • Negligent driving and speeding on the part of the offender.
  • Reckless driving, DUI, or DWI.
  • Distracted driving –texting.
  • Road defects, road repairs, or construction activities.
  • Automobile defects where the manufacturers of the vehicle are held accountable.

Truck Accidents

While under the auto wreck umbrella, truck accidents are considered more deadly and lethal. This is due to the size and weight of the truck in question – i.e. semi-trucks. These powerful trucks can seriously injure or even kill passengers if an accident with a smaller car occurs. In fact, there are several ways trucks can cause bodily harm, injuries, or wrongful deaths, including but not limited to:

  • Aggressive driving or road rage – cutting off smaller cars, motorcyclists, or other motorists.
  • Driving error and negligence – including failing to signal during lane changes, fatigue driving, or even jackknifing).
  • Driving recklessly during torrential downpours, storms, or adverse conditions.
  • Driving and swaying due to overweight loads.
  • Trucks that have mechanical defects – drivers and manufacturers will both be held accountable – especially if they knew of these defects and did nothing to resolve or repair them.
  • DUI, DWI, or driving while under the influence of medications.

There are other wrongful death claims as well. These stem from medical malpractice suits, workplace accidents, defective products, motorcycle accidents, and even slips and falls at residential or commercial establishments. Parkersburg attorneys handle all types of wrongful death cases – and work diligently to ensure favorable outcomes for those filing claims. In cases of defendants that feel they are innocent and are victims themselves – they too will receive top legal aid and representation against unjust or unlawful claims.

Why Wrongful Death Lawsuits are Important?

Wrongful death lawsuits are very important to family members that have lost loved ones. In fact, families rely on settlements to pay outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, and missed incomes. However, these cases are not about just securing compensation for fees and expenses. They are also designed to hold individuals, companies, and even employers responsible for their actions. Remember, negligence is also an action – and is never an excuse for any defendant saying he or she did not know what could have happened. Parkersburg attorneys have the skills to make sure defendants are found guilty in a court of law – while securing restitution for family members dealing the financial and emotional aftermath of a loved one’s passing.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence, Parkersburg attorneys can truly help you and your families get what is owed. From wrongful death to personal injury cases and workman’s compensation, we are committed to getting families the justice they deserve. All it takes is a simple phone call or e-mail to schedule a complimentary consultation and get the services you need. Do not let the passing of your loved one due to another’s negligence go in vain. Please contact our office today.

How To Sue for Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a habit of engaging in any activity, which could potentially distract a driver from the crucial task of operating the vehicle. In theory, it can be any activity that takes a driver’s eyes away from the road or the driver’s mental awareness away from driving. Distractions while driving can be categorized into three distinct areas: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual distraction entails taking the driver’s hands off the wheel while visual distraction involves the driver’s eyes being taken off the road. Cognitive distraction happens when a driver’s focus is not directed towards the act of driving and the mind “takes a stroll.”

According to studies most of the head on collisions and near misses that are experienced on our roads involve inattention as a major contributing factor. Visual inattention by drivers on the road is the most significant causative factor contributing to crash and near crash vehicle involvement on our roads. Cognitive driving distraction connected to listening, and talking on a handheld or hands-free device is associated with most of the crashes and near-miss accidents

Research shows that the human brain functions in a way that in the event of distractions while driving, there is increased brain activity.  Straight driving and making turns in the presence of traffic becomes extremely hard to in case of distractions are on the road. Because of this, it is vital for drivers to center their attention on only the task at hand, driving. Even though driving becomes the primary cognitive function, when drivers are distracted brain areas that need to be activated for safe operation of the vehicle are not, which is a perfect recipe for a distracted driving accident.

Distracted driving is a prime cause of accidents, death, and injuries, apart from citations for traffic violations the driver commits. Distracted driving accidents are an indication of negligence or recklessness on the part of the driver. If evidence of distraction is presented in an injury lawsuit resulting from a vehicle accident, the driver will most likely have a case. As a Huntington personal injury lawyer, it is important to unravel whether or not an accident was caused by other factors or is a distracted driving accident.

There are many activities, which fall under the label of “distracted driving.” Many new laws have been legislated which primarily focus on gadget distractions such as texting while driving or making calls using a cell phone in your car. However, common causes of distracted driving continue, such as shaving while driving, putting on makeup while driving, or playing with and tending to a pet and many other causes.

Under distracted driving traffic laws, distracted driving is a term, which covers a broad spectrum of driving behaviors. All states have legislated and enacted laws against distracted driving to prevent distracted driving accidents. Each state has taken a variety of approaches to curbing distracted driving accidents, ranging from general bans to specific bans on driving distractions.

General distracted driving laws help in punishing all distracted driving activities. They do not specify the particular activities, which are prohibited, but instead general parameters have been set to sanction all forms of distracted driving. As a Huntington personal injury lawyer, general distracted driving is engaging in any activity which is not necessary while operating the vehicle or activity which would impair your ability to drive safely. With these general laws, it is easier to deal with any injury suit arising from a distracted driving accident.

Driving with a dog or any pet can be very unsafe. An unharnessed or non-caged pet can be a distraction. Animals are known to be unpredictable; they may pull stunts, which you may not expect in the vehicle while you are driving. An animal can even jump on the steering wheel or event the vehicle windscreen causing a dangerous distraction for the driver.

Another distraction is focusing on an outside person, object, or event, a situation known as rubbernecking. It is the most reported cause of distracted driving accidents. It is essential for the driver to stay focused while driving and in case his attention is drawn towards any outside person or event the driver should pull the vehicle over and take the time to watch before getting back on driving.

In a world of busy schedules and ever-extending commutes, eating while driving any vehicle has become the norm. Eating while driving is a very costly venture for many drivers. Apart from the driver’s attention being distracted towards the meal, unwieldy burgers, soups, and hot drinks can make steering a car a hard task. Meals and fluids also present the risk of pouring on the driver and the driver’s operation area, causing a very dangerous distraction. Although the dangers of eating while driving are evident and well known, drivers continually ignore them leading to many distracted driving accidents.

Another activity that causes distraction and can attract legal consequences to the driver in case of an accident is operating vehicle machines like the radio in the car.

While these common distractions look so simple, they may lead to catastrophic distracted driving accidents and injuries. By law, an activity that causes the driver to be distracted from operating the vehicle and causing an accident will attract legal suits for any damages caused. Therefore as a driver, you ought to be careful with any distraction that will come your way, if you want to protect yourself from lawsuits coming your way.

There are also laws, which are enacted on some specific distraction. These laws attract a heavier punishment for the driver, such laws center on the use of telephones and other electronic gadgets. They forbid texting, and calling and general use of electronics in the car while driving.

The laws also explicitly prohibit drivers from activities such as shaving, putting on make-up, reading, interacting with pets, writing and other recurrent in-vehicle driving distractions.

In regards to cell phones and driving, most state laws forbid all drivers from speaking on a mobile phone or texting without means of a hands-free mechanism while driving. Other states completely prohibit all cell phone activity even with the use of a hands-free device by drivers, typically, younger than 18 drivers and school bus drivers.

Driving while texting is also categorized as distracted driving and is forbid by law. In particular, these laws outlaw use of electronic devices, which would include sending and receiving text messages on devices such as PDAs, cell phones, and other devices. All gadget oriented laws characteristically ban not only texting while driving, but also use of other devices, such as emailing while driving, web browsing, or use of smartphone apps, and other device use activities.

The law allows law enforcement to pull the driver over and issue a traffic citation for distracted driving even if the officer observes no other violation. Distracted driving laws are referred to as “primary enforcement” laws; police can pull you over for such offenses.

IVC Filters Raise Concerns for Many

Blood clots are scary for everyone. I recall when I was younger, my father having issues with them in the hospital, and the list of what could happen if the clots were untreated left me sick to my stomach. If you haven’t suffered from a blood clotting issue, and you are like me, you probably assumed that all blood clots are the same. As it turns out, this is not true. Per the Cleveland Clinic, blood clots within the deep veins of the upper and lower extremities and pelvis are termed Deep Venous Thromboses or DVTs. While DVTs are not, in themselves, life-threatening, the condition can become deadly if the blood clot travels to the lungs and becomes a pulmonary embolism or PE, interrupting normal blood flow to the lungs.

For most people, the way a blood clot is initially treated is by way of blood thinners. This is fresh in my mind because I follow NASCAR racing, and a driver was sidelined because of his issues with blood clots. He was treated with blood thinners and was not allowed to race because of fear of injury. Essentially, a blood thinner, while good for treating blood clot issues, can cause excessive bleeding if you are injured. In this case, a race car driver, who is at high risk for injury, probably shouldn’t be allowed to race while taking blood thinners.

For individuals with reoccurring blood clots, or for those who don’t find success with a blood thinner, an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter may be used instead. Since I don’t have a medical background, I am going to let the folks from the Cleveland Clinic explain how this works. An IVC filter is a small metal device designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs. The filter is placed in the inferior vena cava (the large vein that takes blood back to the heart) typically just below the kidneys using a catheter type deployment device.

That description can be confusing. So, think of an IVC filter like a car’s engine oil filter. The oil filter is in place between the oil reservoir and the oil supply to the engine. The oil filter prevents particles and contaminants from making their way into the engine to harm vital parts. This is similar to how an IVC filter prevents blood clots from harming the lungs or heart.

In recent years, issues with IVC filters have become prevalent the FDA issued the following regarding the defective filters:

Since 2005, the FDA has received 921 device adverse event reports involving IVC filters, of which 328 involved device migration, 146 involved embolizations (detachment of device components), 70 involved perforation of the IVC, and 56 involved filter fracture. Some of these events led to adverse clinical outcomes in patients. These types of events may be related to a retrievable filter remaining in the body for long periods of time, beyond the time when the risk of pulmonary embolism (PE) has subsided.

The FDA is concerned that these retrievable IVC filters, intended for short-term placement, are not always removed once a patient’s risk for PE subsides. Known long term risks associated with IVC filters include but are not limited to lower limb deep vein thrombosis (DVT), filter fracture, filter migration, filter embolization and IVC perforation.

If you Google the term IVC filter currently, you will likely see a bunch of results for law firms. The reason you will see so many search results for attorneys pertains to the increasing number of lawsuits filed because of complications resulting from the filter. Some IVC filters have been known to break, or cause damages to veins and organs. One such complication from a malfunctioning IVC filter involves Deep Vein Thrombosis. This is essentially a blood clot in one of the deeper veins in your legs. This can be very painful, and once again, if the clot breaks loose, it can seriously harm your heart, lungs, or other organs. Other complications include: Device-associated morbidity device migration, filter embolization, filter fracture, insertion-site thrombosis, perforation of the vena cava, recurrent DVT, recurrent PE, thrombotic complications, vena cava thrombosis.

If you’re reading this, you likely have some sort of history with an IVC filter. Perhaps you’ve had one implanted into your body. If that is the case, talk to your doctor or primary care physician about your concerns. He or she will be able to answer any questions you have regarding your device.

If you’ve had issues or complications with your IVC filter, call us. We’d love to explain your options to you and answer any questions you have about your legal rights. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk at this time, fill out this form, and we will call you at a better time.

Why Not So Serious? Why We’re Not Like Other Law Firms.

If you’ve lived in the Mid-Ohio Valley for any period of time,  you’ve likely heard of our firm. We’re aware that our commercials run often on local TV channels andjan_003 radio stations. On more than one occasion we’ve had individuals approach us on the street to sing us the jingle. We don’t mind because it’s a part of our culture. In all honesty, you’ll likely catch an attorney or staff member singing that same jingle while they’re gathering records or researching cases. When most people read that they may think that it’s odd for people in a law firm to be that relaxed or even have fun. Law is serious, and you must be serious all the time, right? Well yes and no.  Yes, all the types of law we focus on are very serious, but no, we don’t have to be serious all the time. We’re not like other law firms; we like to have fun, make silly videos, and have active social media accounts for very specific reasons. Read on to see why having fun is a big part of the Jan Dils difference.

I have worked here for six years. That’s more than double the amount of time that I’ve worked for any company. During my tenure at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, I have completed graduate school, traveled more than any other time in my life, and met some amazing people. Regardless if you are working with individuals who need help with social security, or an individual who has been hurt or injured because of a car wreck, or even a Veteran who has been injured in service to his or her country, you tend to learn a lot about yourself. I feel as if I’ve grown a lot since I started working here. I didn’t have a Smartphone when I started, and I hadn’t even flown before. After interacting with clients for a few months I started relating to them more and more. I quickly learned that a person who had fear about filing for social security wasn’t too different from me hesitating to board a plane. Fear can prevent us from doing certain things, and any business that can eliminate that fear is probably going to be successful.

The Subaru Incident.

7-15-5I still deal with fear on a regular basis. One of the things that I am most afraid of is buying a new car. I actually know a lot about cars, and I just need to figure out what I want. To do that, I have to visit a lot of car lots and spend time with numerous salespeople. I try to make it clear up-front that I am not purchasing until next year. However, during a recent trip to a Subaru dealership, all my fears were brought to the forefront. The third question the salesman asked me was: “What can I do to get you into this car today?” I wanted to pull out one of my classic smart alec responses like: “Oh gee mister, I don’t know. I’m just a dumb kid, please take my money,” but I was restrained. I said I needed to at least drive the car before purchasing it from him. (I know, I am so demanding.) Within moments of driving the Subaru Forester, I knew I did not want the vehicle. It’s not a bad car, and if you need a crossover, put it on your list of vehicles to consider. Simply, it was not the car for me. After a short test drive, I returned to the lot only to be greeted by a different salesperson. This man asked me how I liked the Forester. When I responded that I was not a fan, he stated that is probably because of how heavy I was, then he lied to me about the transmission. This was the epitome of every stereotypically bad car buying story you’ve ever heard. I was frustrated and wanted to stop looking. My sister convinced me to travel to a different dealer here locally. This dealership is much larger, and they sell Toyotas. They have a unique marketing strategy in which they appear live on TV every Monday. They have a lot of fun, and they are quite approachable. Our experience there was completely different. Granted, we knew the salesperson from before, but we hadn’t spoken since our last car buying experience. They made us feel comfortable, answered our questions, and let us take our time to figure out which car was best for me. While I was not ready to buy a car that day, I will go back there because of how approachable everyone was and how comfortable I felt.

jd-work-group-2This reminded me of how so many must feel when they have to approach someone for a Personal Injury claim or Social Security. They are likely nervous, scared, and probably are out of options. It can be one of the scariest times of their life. So, put yourself in the shoes of someone who has been injured in an accident. Imagine you are in a lot of pain. Imagine you are not sure what your future holds. Would you feel comfortable approaching a law firm with the ubiquitous attorney grimacing in front of a bookcase full of encyclopedias? Or, would you rather go to the firm that has fun on their social media sites, publishes content to help you better understand the process, and strives to be approachable?

So yes, we are different than the other law firms. We may have a lot of fun at work, but we also have a lot of passion for what we do. We like to let both of those things show.

If you’re curious about any of our lines of business, call us. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. We offer a free consultation for Veterans Disability, Social Security, and Personal Injury. We will take the time to explain to your options, and if for any reason we can’t help you, we will point you in the right direction. If you aren’t free to talk now, fill out this form, and we’ll be happy to talk to you at a time that is more convenient.

How to Determine if Someone is a Victim of Medical Malpractice

medical malpractice

Although hospitals are supposed to be the place people go to in order to get better, it’s an unfortunate truth that sometimes situations can instead go from bad to worse there. Although the nature of these issues can stem from a variety of sources, such as a doctor’s genuine mistake, clear ineptitude, or some other external factor; the end result can still have a serious impact on the patient’s health regardless of the cause. While medical malpractice claims should always be handled by a knowledgeable West Virginia personal injury lawyer, it’s worth going over some of the basics anyway. Once you understand the intricacies of these cases, you can decide for yourself whether you need the expertise of a West Virginia personal injury lawyer for your own claim.

The Central Points of a Medical Malpractice Claim

There are four main points to any malpractice claim: that there was a clear relationship between the doctor and patient, that the care provided to the patient by the doctor fell below the medical standard of care, that there was a clear connection between the care provided and the harm that resulted, and that the harm that resulted was significant enough to the patient to be quantifiable.

Although there is plenty of room for ambiguity within each of these points, they are the primary components of every malpractice claim. It’s important to note that the burden of proof lies with the patient in these cases, which means they are responsible for proving each of these points in a satisfactory manner. If a patient is unable to satisfactorily prove each of these claims, then they will not be awarded any damages at the conclusion of the malpractice case. It’s precisely for this reason that having a knowledgeable lawyer by your side is so important. Since these types of cases typically have a lot of nuance, having someone that has a deep understanding of the rules and regulations associated with medical care can be the difference between a successful claim and a lost one.

Establishing a Doctor-Patient Relationship

This may seem like an obvious point, but doctors are only responsible for a diagnosis or treatment that they give to an actual patient. If you’re at a party and a doctor says something offhandedly, you cannot turn around and then hold them liable for any harm that came from the “off the clock” advice. If you instead spoke with a doctor at a hospital as their patient though, then their actions are certainly open to closer scrutiny. This is typically the easiest part of a malpractice case to prove, or at least it should be, in theory.

Examining the Medical Standard of Care

Unlike the doctor-patient relationship, coming to an agreement on the accepted medical standard of care is much more difficult. This is because there isn’t an easily defined or accepted standard that can be easily referenced across all courtrooms. In proving a medical standard of care, the main concern is whether another health care professional in a similar situation would have pursued the same treatment or diagnosis as the doctor involved in the claim.

Since the medical standard of care involves exploring what other health care professionals would do, it should come as no surprise that this stage of the case often involves other health care professionals. Typically, the patient’s lawyer will bring in a medical expert to explain their own thought-process to the court. By providing an alternate insight into the events that led to the malpractice, a medical expert can have a significant impact on the outcome of a claim.

Of course, it’s not enough for a medical expert to simply have some knowledge of a specific treatment or diagnosis. One of the main points behind a medical standard of care is whether a doctor of a similar background would make the same decisions as the one involved in the case. As a result of this specificity, the medical expert involved on the plaintiff’s side will often be one from the same area and who practices the same field of medicine. This ensures greater accuracy in exploring the necessary steps involved in the correct treatment, and it also serves to create a sharper contrast between the correct method and the incorrect one used by the defendant.

Presenting a Connection Between Negligence and Harm

Although a large part of a case hinges on highlighting any breaches in the medical standard of care, that may not always be enough for a claim to hold up in court. In addition to proving any breaches, the plaintiff must also prove that any negligence on the doctor’s part led to actual harm for the patient. This can sometimes be difficult, especially if a lot of the “damage” is emotional rather than physical. In fact, the harm that a patient experiences must be measurable beyond simply existing, but we’ll discuss that in more detail later.

When discussing any acts of negligence on the doctor’s part, it’s not enough to simply prove that they behaved in appropriately given their knowledge and background. In addition, the plaintiff must prove that it was precisely because of the doctor’s inappropriate actions that they experienced direct harm. Although this sounds difficult to prove, there is a certain amount of leeway afforded to patients. For instance, if a doctor’s misdiagnosis led to a patient’s continued suffering of an ailment, then that negligence can qualify for malpractice, even though the doctor didn’t cause the ailment.

To put it another way, malpractice primarily seeks to financially make amends for any medical actions that previously led to a decline in a patient’s health. This gives malpractice a wide berth from which to work and address issues, which also means that there are plenty of opportunities for malpractice claims that people simply have no idea about. It’s for this reason that contacting a lawyer is recommended, as they can provide a greater insight into your specific case than you might otherwise discover on your own without any outside help.

Proving Patient Harm

Finally, the arguably most important component of a malpractice claim is proving that the patient suffered real damage from the doctor’s actions. As previously mentioned, this can sometimes be difficult, as the pain experienced by the patient must be quantifiable. This is because the pain experienced by the patient is then used as a measure for the financial damages awarded in the case of a victorious claim. If the damage can’t be appropriately proven, then there is nothing for the court to base their damages on to award the plaintiff. This also means that it’s important for you to keep thorough records after an operation, so that you can prove any damages should the need arise.

Bringing It All Together

If, after reviewing these different points, you feel that you might have a medical malpractice case, then your next step should be to contact a personal injury lawyer. With their expertise, you can determine your next steps and ensure that your case is as strong as it can be.

While this guide does cover a lot of the broader points commonly associated with malpractice claims, it is by no means exhaustive. There are still plenty of intricacies that are not covered here, including the problems that can arise from a person getting an out-of-state treatment or diagnosis. Although this guide doesn’t have the answer to specific questions like that, these are the type of questions that you should definitely bring to an attorney. A skilled attorney that has extensive malpractice knowledge can work with you through all of your case’s specific points, and can also help to address any concerns or reservations that you might personally have about your claim.

If you’re worried about the potential cost of hiring a lawyer for a malpractice case, you really shouldn’t be. Our services are offered based on a contingency fee, meaning that we don’t get paid unless your claim is successful. In fact, this is how most malpractice attorneys operate, regardless of which state they’re located in. So, if you think you might have experienced malpractice in the past, based on the points discussed above, then it’s time to contact an attorney and start exploring possible options. We want to help you make things right, especially if it means helping to protect other patients from being similarly mistreated in the future.