Do You Have A Case?
How I Can Help You: From My Closed Case Files
PERSONAL INJURY – DO YOU HAVE A CASE ?
If you’ve been injured, you already have enough to worry about getting treated for your injuries. If you’ve been injured because of someone’s negligence, chances are that an insurance company has already started a file on you while you’re still going to doctors. But who’s starting a file for you? You may have the legal right to recover for your medical expenses, time lost from work, and for all the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life caused by this injury. How can you find out if you can recover for your injuries ?
The first question is whether someone is legally responsible for your injuries. The law calls this “Negligence”:
“The Plaintiff, in order to recover from the Defendant, must prove that the Defendant was negligent. Negligence in its ordinary sense, is the failure of a responsible person, either by action or failure to act, to exercise that degree of care, vigilance and forethought which the person of ordinary caution and prudence ought to exercise under the particular circumstances. “
– from a standard Jury Instruction
But in plain English, “Negligence” usually boils down to this:
*Did someone do something a reasonable person shouldn’t ?
– or –
*Did someone fail to do something a reasonable person should ?
Next, you have to prove who was negligent, and why. Evidence can be lost if you wait too long to investigate the cause of your injuries. Time limits apply to all personal injury cases, and your case can be lost if you don’t bring a claim within those time limits.
These cases are some examples of successful personal injury claims I’ve brought for my clients over the years. In each case, these people thought there was nothing they could do, or they didn’t have a clue about who might have caused their injuries:
Truck driver injured at an open-air “mine”:
My client trucked hot asphalt from a factory where they make it out of crushed stone and other materials. While standing next to his own truck, he was run over by one of the factory’s equipment service trucks when it backed over him, trapping him underneath the service truck and causing life-threatening injuries. The first thing he told me was that he never heard any “backup bells” before the truck backed over him. While my client was still in the hospital, we discovered that this asphalt factory was covered by Federal Mining Safety regulations that required backup bells on all heavy equipment. We performed an on-site inspection to show that the operator of the service truck couldn’t see anything closer than 100 feet from the back of the truck, and we discovered that the asphalt company had failed to repair the backup bell on the truck after they knew it had broken. Not surprisingly, this case settled before trial.
City employee electrocuted – “Dig Safe” no responsible:
The 888-DIG-SAFE hotline exists so you can call to make sure there are no gas or power lines buried on your property before excavating. City water departments always call DIG SAFE first, so a city water crew had no idea of how my client was electrocuted while repairing a water line under a street. By finding the right electrical expert early in the case, we traced the electricity to the water pipe my client was repairing. Electrical current had been running down the pipe from the nearest building, because of an un-licensed rewiring job done by the building owner. We also discovered that the local power company had missed obvious signs on the outside of the building that the power lines had been tampered with. Both defense teams told me I was “crazy” to expect they would ever settle because the case was too complicated and a jury would never “get” it. But they settled on the third day of trial, paying my client on top of reimbursing the city for its sizeable worker’s compensation expenses.
The “state of the art” printing press that wasn’t:
My client’s hand was caught between two rollers when he lost his balance near the ink roller assembly of a modern newspaper press, powered by a 745 hp. motor. The company that made the press was by then part of a big conglomerate, and their well-known law firm insisted the press was “state of the art” and that nothing could have stopped my client’s hand from being pulled between the two rollers. They said the pressman was “the author of his own injuries” and the accident was all his fault. My investigation of this company’s corporate history revealed that the original press company had made a much safer newspaper press back in the 1920s, when they had a simple screen guard covering the ink rollers. Thanks to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. (pre-internet) I was able to present the conglomerate’s lawyers with old sales catalogues that showed the benefits of these safety guards on their 1924 newspaper press, and the case settled shortly thereafter.
The office chair that shouldn’t have been sold:
My client was injured on the first day of a new job when she sat on an office chair and the base of the chair broke. It had been suggested that maybe she was a bit heavy, or that she sat down on the chair the wrong way. As in so many cases, people told her to just forget about it: “Collect your worker’s compensation payments until you can go back to work.” But her back injuries still bothered her long after she went back to work, and worker’s compensation doesn’t really cover your loss of enjoyment in life. My investigation turned up a lot: the insurance company for the chair manufacturer knew all about the problem long before my client was injured. A safety recall had been issued for the plastic base of the chair, but my client’s employer never got the recall notice about this chair. A settlement followed soon after my client finished treating for her injuries. I’ll always remember the insurance adjuster’s response to my first letter:“Oh, you’ve got one of those chair cases . . . send us your demand package“.
The wrong lock on the wrong door:
A truck driver was unloading a 30-foot trash dumpster, something he’d done hundreds of times before. But when he tried to open the door on this dumpster, the compressed construction debris inside it blew the door open and the latch hit him on the side of the head, causing serious facial fractures. His employer told him to just collect his worker’s compensation and forget about it: “It’s just your bad luck” they told him. We discovered that after the original latch rusted off, the dumpster leasing company had replaced it with a locking handle that was never supposed to be used with hydraulic dumpsters that compress their contents. The dumpster leasing company negligently exposed my client to thousands of pounds of pressurized garbage on the other side of the door. We arrived at a settlement shortly after I produced this evidence about using the wrong replacement latch to the company’s insurer.
Even electricians can get electrocuted:
The florescent light panels you see in the ceilings of big office building run on 277 volts. My client, like all electricians, was always careful around these fixtures, but he was electrocuted while moving one of these lights even though he had turned it off before going to work on it. The light fixture sent 277 volts of electricity into my client, knocking him off his ladder and causing a severe “open” fracture to his ankle. Several insurance companies investigated this case and came to the same conclusion: it was all his fault because he was an electrician. Fortunately, we were able to get copies of the photographs taken by the building management staff right after the accident, and a jury didn’t agree with the insurance investigators. We showed at trial that an electrical contractor had made changes in the same area of the building, and that they cross-wired the lights in this room and negligently failed to check their work. The lights could be turned off, but they were still “hot” with current running to the lights.
Bicyclist struck by a parked truck:
My client was riding his bike down a street when he was hit in the side of the head and knocked unconscious by the opening door of a parked truck. The truck driver had parked illegally in a bus stop zone, and he was in a hurry to go into a nearby store. The truck driver’s insurer insisted that the my client must have ridden his bike into the opened door, and that is was all his fault. But when I filed suit and got a complete copy of the insurance company’s collision damage photos and inspection reports, the insurer had to admit there was no damage on the inside of the door, only marks on the outside of the door where it struck my client’s helmet. Don’t expect an insurance adjuster to tell you “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” about your case, because that’s not their job. Insurers will investigate your case, but the insurance adjuster’s job is to find a way to deny or limit your claim. Again, finding the right evidence caused the insurer to settle rather than go to trial.
Multiple Insurance Policies Triple the Client’s Settlement:
An elderly woman was struck by a car while she was crossing the street. This case came to me as a referral from the woman’s family lawyer at a general practice firm, when they had asked me to double-check the case after the driver’s insurer had “responsibly” offered their full liability policy limits covering this car to settle the case. My first reaction was: “Not so fast – do we know whether this driver was covered by more than one policy ?” I later found out that the insurer had not told this woman’s family lawyer that the driver who hit her was actually covered by three different car insurance policies from other family members in the house where he lived. Although it’s rare, a driver using a car he does not own in Massachusetts is also covered by the policies on his own cars. The insurer was trying to rush a settlement of this case because they didn’t want anyone asking about 2 other insurance policies. Result: this woman recovered more than 3 times the money first offered.
HOW I CAN HELP YOU:
These cases are only examples of the many ways that you might have a personal injury case. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, the only way to find out if you have a case is to talk to a lawyer and explain what happened. Many of these injuries happened to my clients when they were at work. It’s easy to be distracted by the worker’s compensation process into missing out on your rights to recover beyond worker’s compensation when someone else caused your injuries.
After you’re injured you may be contacted by the negligent party’s insurance investigators. They may say they only want to find out what happened, but you are a new “claim” to the adjuster, and you represent “exposure” to the insurance company. Never forget that the insurance adjuster’s job is to represent the insurer’s interests by keeping you in the dark about your rights, and discourage you from trying to find out:
- WHO caused your injuries;
- WHY they’re responsible, and;
- HOW MUCH you might be entitled to recover
An insurer is under no obligation to tell you if you have a case to recover money for your injuries. Your friends and family may not know if you have a case, and finding out what insurers may be available to pay you, and what time limits may apply to your claim requires sound legal advice.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, I may be able to help you in the following ways:
I’ve been dealing with insurance adjusters and claims people on a daily basis since 1982; you may not want to.
- No Fee Unless Successful: I handle all auto accident cases on a “contingent fee” basis. My fee for legal services is based on a percentage of the actual recovery I can get for you for your injuries, and the fee is only paid at the time of recovery.
- Telephone Consultations, House Calls and Hospital Visits: Since you may not be able to come to me after a car accident, call for a free consultation.