|Types of Accidents||Types of Injuries|
• RESPONSIBILITIES OF YOUR ATTORNEY
• WHAT IS A CONTINGENCY FEE?
If you are the victim of a serious or complicated injury, you will want to contact an attorney to help determine what your next steps should be. As there are all types of attorneys who represent all types of claims, you will want to find an attorney whom you feel that you can trust, and who has had experience and success in representing people like yourself (called "plaintiffs") who have suffered serious personal injury.
Howard Blau Law has a long and successful history representing clients and winning maximum compensation for victims of all types of personal injury. Regardless of the type of injury you have suffered: Fire or Electrical Burn Injury, Spinal Cord and Fracture, Brain and Neurological Injury, Wrongful Death, Dog Bite Injuries or Pedestrian Injuries - Howard Blau Law can help you get the care and the compensation you deserve.
TYPES OF SERIOUS PERSONAL INJURY
Fire or Electrical Burn Injury:
Burns of any type can be highly variable in terms of the tissue affected, the severity, and the resultant complications. Muscle, bone, blood vessel, and epidermal tissue can all be damaged with subsequent pain due to injury to nerve endings. Depending on the location affected and the degree of severity, a burn victim may experience a wide number of life threatening complications including shock, infection, electrolyte imbalance and respiratory distress. Beyond physical complications, burns can also result in severe psychological and emotional distress due to scarring and deformity.
The human body is such a good conductor of electricity that while some electrical burns may look minor, there still may be serious internal damage, especially to the heart, muscles, or brain. The outcome of an electric shock to an individual depends on the intensity of the voltage to which the person was exposed, the route of the current through the body, the victim's state of health, and the speed and adequacy of the treatment. Electric current can cause injury in three main ways: (1) Cardiac arrest due to the electrical effect on the heart; (2) Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction from a current passing through the body; and (3) Thermal burns from contact with the electrical source.
Burns are grouped according to severity, each with distinctive symptoms. First-degree burns are mild and injure only the outer layer of skin. The skin becomes red, but turns white when touched. The area may also be painful to the touch. Second-degree burns are deeper, more severe, and very painful. Blisters may form on the burned area. This type of burn takes about two weeks to heal. Third-degree burns are the deepest and most serious kind. The skin becomes white and leathery, but it does not feel very tender when touched. Serious burns may also be accompanied by headache, fever and dizziness. - top^
Cord and Fracture Injury:
The spinal cord consists of nerves that connect the brain to other nerves in the body. It is like a superhighway for messages passing between the brain and the rest of the body. The spinal cord is surrounded for most of its length by the bones (vertebrae) that form the spine. If a vertebra is broken and a piece of the broken bone presses into the soft spinal cord (which has the consistency of toothpaste), the cord will be injured. The cord can also be injured if the vertebrae, which are normally held in place by strong ligaments and muscles, are pushed or pulled out of alignment (called subluxation), even if the vertebrae are not fractured.
When the spinal cord is injured, the ability of the brain to communicate with the body below the level of the injury may be reduced or lost altogether. When that happens, the part of the body affected will not function normally. The “higher” (closer to the head) the spinal cord injury is, the greater the area of the body that may be affected.
Spinal cord injuries are often descried as “complete” or “incomplete.” A complete injury means that there is complete loss of sensation and muscle control below the level of the injury. Almost half of all spinal cord injuries are complete. Most spinal cord injuries, including complete injuries, result from bruising of the spinal cord or loss of blood flow to the cord, and not from cutting of the cord. A complete injury does not mean that there is no hope of any improvement.
An incomplete injury means that the person has some function below the level of the injury, even though that function is not normal. For example, a person might have weakness of the arms but still be able to move them. Another person may lose the ability to use muscles below the level of the injury only on one side of the body while losing pain and temperature sensation on the other side of the body.
Paraplegia is an impairment in motor and/or sensory function of the lower extremities. It is usually the result of spinal cord injury, which affects the neural elements of the spinal canal. The area of the spinal canal that is affected in paraplegia is either the thoracic, lumbar, or sacral regions. If both the arms and the legs are also affected by paralysis, the condition is called quadriplegia (or tetraplegia)
A fracture is a break in the continuity of the bone. While some bone fractures heal relatively quickly, others can require multiple corrective surgeries that, even when successful, can still cause adverse effects such as chronic pain or limited mobility. In general, a bone fracture results in pain, swelling, and, sometimes, bruising from internal bleeding. The patient cannot bear weight or pressure on the injured area, and may be unable to move it without severe pain. The soft tissues around the broken bone may also be injured. The area around or below the fracture may feel numb due to a loss of pulse in that area. - top^
Brain and Neurological Injury:
Brain and Neurological Injury, oftentimes referred to as “traumatic brain injury” (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. Trauma is defined as any body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from accident, injury, or impact. Such injuries can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.
Symptoms of a TBI can be mild or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking.
A person with severe TBI may show these
same symptoms, but may also have a headache that
gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting
or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability
to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both
pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or
numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination,
and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
Severe brain injury is associated with loss of
consciousness for more than thirty minutes and
memory loss after the injury or penetrating skull
injury longer than twenty-four hours. Survivors
may have limited function of arms or legs, abnormal
speech or language, loss of thinking ability or
emotional problems. The range of injuries and
degree of recovery is broad and varies on an individual
The effects of TBI can be profound. Individuals with severe injuries can be left in long-term unresponsive states. For many people with severe TBI, long-term rehabilitation is often necessary to maximize function and independence. Even with mild TBI, the consequences to a person's life can be dramatic. Change in brain function can have a dramatic impact on family, job, social and community interaction. - top^
A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the surviving dependents or beneficiaries of the deceased seeking monetary damages when it is determined that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence or fault of the defendant. The dependents or beneficiaries may sue in order to recover (1) immediate expenses associated with the death (medical & funeral); (2) loss of victim's anticipated earnings in the future until time of retirement or death; (3) loss of benefits caused by the victim's death (pension, medical coverage, etc.); (4) loss of inheritance caused by the untimely death; (5) pain and suffering, or mental anguish to the survivors; (6) loss of care, protection, companionship to the survivors; (7) general damages and 8) punitive damages.
Though both a wrongful death case and a criminal homicide case involve the death of a person, in a wrongful death case, the decedent's estate pursues the claim in civil court to recover damages from the death, while in a criminal homicide case, the state prosecutes the case in a criminal court and seeks a jail or prison sentence.
One case does not preclude the other—both may occur. If a wrongful death case occurs first, a defendant may assert a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination during the civil suit because the state may prosecute the defendant and use the defendant's statement against him. In addition, a wrongful death case and a criminal prosecution for the same death may yield different outcomes that are, nonetheless, consistent. In the wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of evidence—more likely than not—that the defendant is liable. In contrast, the prosecution in a criminal homicide case must prove the elements of the criminal homicide charge beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher burden of proof than required in civil cases. The varying burdens of proof explain why a defendant may be civilly liable for wrongful death, but not guilty of criminal liability. - top^
Dog Bite Injuries:
Dog Bite Injuries are on the rise across the U.S. A recent study showed that 1,000 Americans per day are treated in emergency rooms as a result of dog bites. That translates into one dog bite every forty seconds requiring medical attention. In 2007, there were thirty-three fatal dog attacks in the U.S. That is up from an annual average of seventeen through the 1990s. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million paid by homeowners insurance. In addition, over 50% of the bites occur on the dog owner's property, with the vast majority of biting dogs (77%) belonging to the victim's family or friends.
Special care must be taken around certain breeds. According to an independent study published in 2007, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in their study. Most fatal dog attacks are by Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. In more than two-thirds of the surveyed cases, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently the first known dangerous behavior by the animal in question.
It is advisable to be extra careful when there is more than one dog in it's own yard, and no master is present. As a general rule, the larger the number of dogs together, the greater the potential threat. Even docile dogs can become uncharacteristically violent and vicious when they are in a pack. Chained or tethered dogs tend to be more dangerous as well. In addition, male dogs (especially unneutered ones) are several times more dangerous than female dogs. There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:
A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is liable (subject to certain exceptions) for injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog. - top^
Lacking any protection whatsoever, a pedestrian is completely vulnerable to serious injuries when struck by a moving vehicle. Even a relatively slow-moving vehicle can cause fractures and other major injuries to a pedestrian due to the significant momentum of the vehicle's hard mass. Leg fractures are particularly common due to the position of car bumpers at the moment of impact. The most frequent driver-related factor is generally failure to yield right-of-way to the pedestrian.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “most pedestrian fatalities in 2000 occurred in urban areas (71%), at non-intersection locations (78%), in good weather conditions (91%), and at night (64%).” Additionally, “more than two-thirds (68%) of the 2000 pedestrian fatalities were males.” While all age groups are more likely to be killed at non-intersection locations, the numbers are higher for children primarily because of dart-outs into the street.
Older people tend to be struck by vehicles more often than younger people. Some older pedestrians have physical, visual, and/or hearing impairments that place greater demand on intersection design. Studies have shown that older pedestrians are particularly over-represented in crashes at intersections involving vehicles turning left and right. - top^
- Obtain all existing evidence, information and reports. Investigate, interview witnesses, retain experts and photograph and videotape all persons, vehicles and the accident scene.
- Ensure that all clients have received all necessary medical diagnoses and treatment and that all of the relevant records and bills are procured and organized.
- Take charge of all case-related negotiations. Oftentimes in an unresolved dispute, there will be negotiations with a claim adjuster who is a professional negotiator. Your attorney should negotiate on your behalf and protect your interests.
- Your attorney should explain specifically what damages they intend to seek, but in general, the different kinds of damages that the law allows you to receive are: (1) Property Damage; (2) General Damages; (3) Medical Expenses; (4) Lost Earnings; (5) Punitive Damages; (6) Future Damages and (7) Special Damages
- Your attorney should handle all communications with the other party, including phone calls. This reduces your exposure to the risks and unpleasantness of dealing with the other party on your own. Similarly, good lawyers often extend each other professional courtesies and may be able to obtain, with a phone call, what would otherwise be a battle for you. A letter from your lawyer helps to establish your claim and puts the other party on notice that you are taking the matter seriously and are represented by a professional.
- Develop a “discovery” strategy which refers to the process of finding evidence, avoiding surprises, narrowing the issues and obtaining all necessary testimonies.
- Represent you in court. Having a skilled attorney
on your side can make all the difference
in the resolution of your case.
WHAT IS A CONTINGENCY FEE?
All personal injury cases at Howard Blau Law are handled on a “contingency” basis, which means there is no fee unless we win your case. - top^