Addressing Issues with Personal Injury Protection Claims in Florida

Anyone registering a vehicle in Florida is required by state law to purchase an insurance packaged called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Drivers will need to carry a minimum coverage package of $10,000 to maintain their driving privileges. This will help ensure that anyone who is injured in the accident can receive compensation for medical treatment costs and other financial obligations caused by the accident. With PIP insurance, car accident victims can receive financial protection regardless of who may be at fault.

Carrying Personal Injury Protection is obviously beneficial for all Florida drivers. However, the lawyers at Schuler, Halvorson, Weisser, Zoeller, and Overbeck P.A. also point out on their website that the law requiring the protection can sometimes make it easy for insurance companies to dodge claimants and deny paying appropriate compensation. According to The Heartland Institute, a non-profit research organization, this is because auto insurance fraud is rampant in Florida. Because of lenient policies, PIP makes it easy for individuals to stage accidents and make fraudulent claims to insurance companies. This leads insurance providers to be more stringent with their process.

This leaves plenty of innocent people in a pretty tight spot. In particular, these scenarios can leave medical professionals with very little option to recover the cost of treatments they’ve performed to help car accident victims. Often times, hospitals and doctors can face a lengthy process and plenty of red tape that aggravate their attempts to find reimbursement.

Even though Personal Injury Protection helps ensure the safety of drivers in Florida, the policy requiring it can also lead to several potential problems. In particular, it can be hard for medical professionals to claim rightful compensation after giving treatment to victims of no-fault accidents. Hospitals dealing with this problem should not hesitate to consult an experienced PIP lawyer to settle complications involved in making rightful insurance claims.

Spinal Cord Injuries

In 2005, the estimated number of new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the US was 11,000. Estimation eventually rose, reaching up to 12,500 new cases each year until 2014. Today, in the US, about 276,000 persons are believed to be spinal cord injured; 82% of the patients are male, while the ages of 56% of those with the injury are 16 and 30.

The spinal cord, which is a bundle of nerve tissues and support cells, is one of the most delicate and sensitive parts of the human body; it forms the central nervous system together with the brain. While the brain may be identified as the body’s command center, the spinal cord acts as a pathway where all messages, from and to the brain, pass to the different parts of the body.

Due to the very important function that it plays in the human body, any serious injury to the spinal cord can result to a devastating effect, namely, paralysis. Depending on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord, paralysis may either be Paraplegia, which is partial paralysis, or Quadriplegia, which means total paralysis. Quadriplegia refers to total loss of bodily functions and control from the area of the injury down to the rest of the body (thus, the higher the area of the injury, the greater the extent of paralysis). In Paraplegia, however, loss of function and control is on one side of the body only; there are cases, though, wherein, despite loss of control, the paralyzed body part remains to have sensation.

Until 1995, vehicular (car and motorcycle) accidents were identified as the most common causes of spinal cord injuries. This was overtaken by violence (knife wounds and gunshot) during the early 2000. In 2014, however, a study conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Center for Surgical Trials and Outcomes Research showed that falls have become the new leading causes of the injury, especially in older adults. Though no clear picture explains how falls could have overtaken vehicular accidents in causing SCI, researchers can only assume the strict implementation of the seatbelt law in many states as a major contributory factor plus the more active life of the aging American population.

Other identified causes of SCI, include injuries due to sports and recreational activities, work-related accidents, use of alcohol, and diseases, such as inflammation of the spinal cord, osteoporosis, cancer and arthritis.

On its website, the law firm Pohl & Berk, LLP, points out the life-altering consequences of a spinal cord injury. While this injury can definitely make the life of the victim and his/her family filled with burden (physical, emotional and, especially, financial), it can also evoke the feeling of anger, especially due to the thought that the accident leading to the injury may very well have been prevented had the liable individual only acted with proper care. The firm continues to explain that, though the victim’s life may no longer return to normal, he/she can pursue legal actions, which can help him/her receive the financial compensation that will cover expensive medical treatment and loss of wages or loss of capability to earn wages.

Consequences of Driving Without a License in Illinois

Traffic violations are not generally considered serious offenses, but that only covers categories such as failing to signal or tailgating. These are petty offenses that warrant a fine in most cases. However, traffic violations such as driving without a valid license are criminal offenses, and carries potentially serious penalties.

Driving without a license is the same as driving with a license that has been suspended or revoked; they are at a minimum a class A misdemeanor in Illinois. Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.® warns that you could spend as much as a year in jail and pay a fine up to $2,500. If you have been involved in an accident where someone got injured, it may be classified as a felony with escalating severity depending on the circumstances such as the severity of the injury to a third party. In such cases, you could be looking at up to 7 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine, not including expenses for the treatment and compensation of the injured party.

It is certainly an inconvenience having your driving privileges suspended, but not more than spending time in prison and getting a criminal record. If your driver’s license is suspended and you don’t know why, you need to find out so that you can take the necessary steps to lifting it. A notification of license suspension may not detail why, so it is your responsibility to get a court purposes abstract (the driving record) from the office of the Secretary of State.

When the suspension falls under safety responsibility issues or mandatory insurance suspensions, you will need to obtain a certificate of financial responsibility or the SR22 and concomitant car insurance from an accredit insurance company.

The Child in Me

There is usually a time in a person’s life when they think back with nostalgia to the days when they were young and carefree, and some retain aspects of their childhood in their outlook in life. However, when a woman refers to the “child in me,” she probably does not mean an actual child. But in some cases, that can be true.

Lithopedion or “stone baby” refers to a rare medical condition in which a fetus dies outside the uterus, usually the abdomen, and the mother’s body is unable to expel it without assistance. There are about 300 cases in total, and in some the infant’s body stays in the mother for years before it is discovered or expelled. In most cases, the mother is unaware that she is harboring the body of a dead child until it becomes symptomatic (abdominal pain, swelling) or an examination for another condition reveals it.

The most recent discovery was made in August 2014 in India when an MRI scan of a 62-year-old woman admitted for abdominal pain revealed the hardened, calcified remains of a child lodged on the lower right side of the abdomen. It was the child she had been pregnant with when she was 24, and had been told had no chance of survival because it was growing outside the uterus. It is believed to be the longest ectopic pregnancy in history, although not the longest case of lithopedion, which goes to a woman in China, who harbored her mummified baby for 65 years. She knew it was there in 1948 but only had it removed in 2013 because she didn’t have the money to do it earlier.

The reference to a “stone baby” is based on the fact that when a fetus which has achieved a certain size dies, the mother’s body may not be able to expel it on its own. If the fetus is not removed, the body begins to calcify to protect the mother from the decomposing tissue and prevent infection.

Elements of Wire Fraud

White collar crimes involve schemes or misrepresentations to ultimately and illegally obtain money or property and involve no physical violence, so in many instances the sanctions are lighter than for violent crimes. However, there are some types of white collar crimes that carry heavy penalties in terms of prison time and fines. One of these is wire fraud, which is a federal crime from the get go.

To distinguish wire fraud from other types of fraud, the US Code stipulates that the crime was perpetrated using some type of communication over a wire such as the telephone, or more currently relevant, by electronic means. As such, e-mail scams such as the promise of a lot of money in return for a small deposit or personal information are considered wire fraud.

Wire fraud is quite common, occurring in a variety of scenarios. In Houston, three cases of wire fraud were brought against a store owner, two University professors, and two building contractors. The store owner pleaded guilty to 11 counts of wire fraud and faces up to 30 years in prison plus a possible $1 million per count in restitution. A competent Dallas criminal defense lawyer should be able to argue for a lighter sentence considering that the store owner only got a total of $350,000 in the scheme.

The two essential elements of a crime which the prosecution must prove exists to bring a case of wire fraud is provided under the US Code (18 U.S.C. § 1343). These are:

  • That the defendant knowingly and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme designed to defraud another person or entity of money
  • That the defendant used wire or electronic communications in part or in whole to perpetrate the fraud

There are some later additions to the mail and wire fraud statute, most particularly honest services fraud, which does not require any communications over wire or the post office. In the case of the building contractors mentioned earlier, for example, the charge of wire fraud were brought in because they bribed a public official to favor them in awarding city contracts for developing or maintaining buildings.

It can be easy to unknowingly participate in a fraudulent scheme, and if it involves any form or electronic communication, it becomes a federal crime. If charged with wire fraud, lose no time in retaining a qualified criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights and freedom.

Human Resources Concerns for Business Owners

Employees are essential for running any business, and savvy business owners know that investing in quality employees will benefit the company many times over in the long run. This includes careful screening of applicants, periodic training, performance evaluation, promotion, and benefit packages. However, human resources management can be like walking a tightrope, especially when dealing with people from divergent cultural, religious, educational, and personal backgrounds. There is always the risk of inadvertently violating someone’s civil rights in carrying out seemingly neutral policies. Not knowing, unfortunately, is not a viable defense.

Employees should know their rights, certainly, because there are too many employers who ride roughshod over them if they think they can get away with it. Since most states adopt at-will employment, an employer can fire any employee without being required to give a reason unless it is discriminatory. The same applies in hiring, promoting, relocating, and compensating practices; business owners can have carte blanche as long as they meet minimum standards and do not favor one class of people i.e. males over another. According to the website of the John Melton Law Firm, this is to foster equal employment opportunities to everyone. Violations of these employee protections can lead to a personal injury lawsuit.

But it can be fatally easy to make a costly mistake for even the well-meaning employer, which is why some business owners prefer to shift some of the work to a business process outsourcing (BPO) company, even to those that are offshore such as a Philippines outsourcing center. That way, they avoid the difficulties of human resource management while still getting the job done well.

Of course, not all tasks can be outsourced. While outsourcing can be highly effective, there needs to be an understanding of when and when not to use it. There are core activities that can only be done in-house, so business owners need to be well-conversant with employment laws in their state as well as realistic about what kinds of tasks they can outsource with confidence.

Explosions at Work and at Play

When you work for the oil and gas industries, you expect that there could be explosions at work that can injure or kill you. The inherent risks of these occupations is why wages are higher than in other industries, and why oil and gas companies are under constant scrutiny from occupational safety watchdogs. Accidents will happen and this is why workers’ compensation is in place.

Take for instance a gas pipeline explosion that occurred recently that destroyed 3 houses, injured residents, and caused a massive fire to break out. Any worker in the area at the time of the unexpected event would have been almost certainly killed. According to the website of the LaMarca Law Group, P.C., a workers’ compensation attorney may be able to aid in a  wrongful death lawsuit as well because investigations indicate negligence on the part of the gas transmission company. In fact, 7 lawsuits have already been filed by the families who lost their homes and sustained injuries in the explosion. Fortunately, no one was killed this time.

But explosions at work can happen anywhere, such as in the fertilizer plant near Waco that killed 15 and injured at least 160, many of whom were not even employees of the plant. If investigations reveal negligence on the part of the plant owners or managers as the proximate cause of the explosion, those affected may have recourse to a Texas explosion lawyer.

There are also numerous instances when a day of celebration was turned into a day of consternation because of explosions. The Fourth of July celebrations, for example, is when emergency rooms in hospitals gear up for the influx of people injured by fireworks gone wrong, resulting in severe burns and missing fingers. Studies show that malfunctioning fireworks are a major cause of these accidents, so children should not be allowed to handle or even go anywhere near them.

Types of Burn Injuries

According to the American Burn Association, 72% of burn injuries in 2010 occurred in the home, such as a scalding from a hot pot or contact with an open fire or flame. About 9% are occupational, as what 5 workers of a steel plant in Tennessee experienced. Tennessee personal injury lawyers are looking into whether the accident was due to negligence.

There were 450,000 burn injuries that were medically treated in 2010, but only 40,000 were severe enough to require hospitalization. Most burn injuries are minor, but there were 2,550 deaths associated with residential fires, 300 from car accidents, 150 from non-residential fires, and 400 from a combination of scalding liquids, electricity, and hot objects such as debris from the fertilizer plant that exploded in Waco that injured nearby residents. Oceanside personal injury lawyers are investigating options as well.

Minor burn injuries may leave a mark that fades with time, but more severe ones often result in scarring and disfigurement that may require surgery. Really bad ones can affect more than skin, resulting in limited mobility. Below are the types of burn injuries based on severity.

First degree burns – affects the epidermis, or first layer of skin. It is productive of some pain and redness, but it is essentially minor. People who are exposed to the sun without protection or to harsh chemicals can suffer from this

Second degree burns – affects the epidermis and dermis, the second layer of skin which also contains connective tissue. People with second degree burns will form blisters that can be extremely painful and vulnerable to infection, requiring antibiotics and anti-tetanus shots

Third degree burns – this type of burn may go all the way to the hypodermis and should be brought in immediately for professional medical treatment to prevent shock. The skin is destroyed and requires grafting to replace the lost skin. There is little pain in the burned area because the nerves are dead, but the surrounding intact skin may be extremely painful

Fourth degree burns – extends beyond the skin to the tissue, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, and bone. Victims require emergency medical treatment and extensive hospitalization. Damage to tendons and muscles can affect the mobility of the affected area, requiring surgery to correct or minimize the condition. Scarring is often permanent and irreversible.

If you suffered burn injuries because of the negligence of others, you should get compensation for your medical bills, pain, suffering, and long-term effects. Consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area to assess your case.

Defining Securities Litigation

Most people would shy away from anything that sounds as complicated as securities litigation, but for the purpose of defining it in everyday language, suffice it to say that it is legal relief for investors that bought securities without knowing the full story behind it. In the US, the parameters of securities litigation are established primarily by two federal laws: the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

Securities are financial instruments such as stocks or bonds which corporations offer to the public for sale through the stock exchange, which is monitored by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). When an investor buys into a corporation by purchasing securities, they are doing so in the belief that it will generate a profit for them. When a corporation or the brokers who serve as middle men in the transaction fails to disclose information that impacts on the decision to buy, they can be held liable.

Under the aforementioned laws, issuers of securities are mandated to register them with the SEC unless they are exempt. They are also required to provide full details about the company that is relevant to prospective investors, which includes any known risks. Registration with the SEC does not mean that the government endorses the company or its offerings, though; it only means the SEC has determined that such a company exists and eligible to make a public offering. The company must provide regular updates about their status by filing quarterly reports to the SEC, including audited financial statements (AFS). In most cases, securities litigation is based on the failure of the company to provide truthful or incomplete information to the SEC and their investors, such as by manipulating the AFS to reflect non-existent profits.

However, it would be a mistake to think that securities litigation is simple; it isn’t. The nature of securities and the laws that govern it are complex, requiring the specialized knowledge of a securities litigation lawyer to understand them, let alone engage in litigation. If you believe that a corporation or broker is engaged in securities fraud, you should consult with a securities litigation lawyer to assess and handle the case for you.

Persistence Pays Off: Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury

They do say “never say die” and that applies quite neatly to the average plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, but perhaps especially to medical malpractice cases. Personal injury cases typically take a long time to get resolved, and in many cases it ends in a settlement out of court. Medical malpractice cases, however, are notorious for taking much longer and having a much lower success rate than any other type of personal injury claims.

Perhaps it is because people tend to cling to the belief that a person who studied a minimum of 10 years can make preventable mistakes in treatment, and have faith in their oath to “do no harm.”

Unfortunately, it happens much more frequently than anyone would like to believe or know and the hapless victims or their families face an uphill battle.

According to an investigation into the medical malpractice records, a measly 654 out of the 16,000 plus cases brought against a doctor ended in a settlement and only 6 doctors ever received disciplinary action from a state medical board. The remaining cases never reached trial or resulted in a verdict for the defendant. In other words, these medical malpractice victims never saw justice for their wrongs.

But hope floats.

In 2014, two notable verdicts were read for the plaintiffs in Massachusetts, resulting in awards in excess of $4 million for each case. The cases were based on wrongful deaths that occurred in 2005 and 2006, so the wheels of justice still went slowly. But thanks in a large part to the persistence and experience of their respective Massachusetts personal injury lawyers, the plaintiffs finally emerged victorious.

If you or an immediate family member suffered serious injury or death because of preventable medical errors or other negligent acts, don’t be fazed by the odds. With the help of a persistent and experienced personal injury lawyer, like the ones at Habush Habush & Rottier S.C. ®, you can also get justice.

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