ALWAYS GET THE AUTOPSY

Wrongful Death Lawyer

Often, families approach me – as a Wrongful Death Lawyer – and ask if they should get an autopsy.  The short answer is yes.

The reason it is important to always get an autopsy is because the facts and details from the autopsy will be critical in uncovering important information as to what occurred. This information, in turn, will arm your attorney in prosecuting a wrongful death lawsuit.

An autopsy is conducted by a medical doctor that specializes and studies causes of death.  Usually, the doctor is board-certified as a forensic pathologist.  If the pathologist is employed by a city, county or state, they are also called medical examiners or the “ME”.  Medical examiners are employed to assist the police in murder investigations, and their principal task is to determine if the cause of death was due to some-type of criminal activity.  Yet, since they are investigating the cause of death, medical examiners will often testify in civil wrongful death cases.  Ideally, the medical examiner is free from bias, and thus does not favor the defendants over the plaintiffs.

Other pathologists work in hospitals.  These doctors are either employees of the hospital or have a contractual relationship with the hospital, and thus, some type of relationship with the physicians on staff.  This is unfortunate, because the best things about a forensic pathologist is their objectivity and absence of allegiance to protect the wrongdoers.  Yet, many pathologists that work in hospitals are brave individuals that value the truth over all other considerations.

An autopsy is just additional testing.  One of the key tests performed is the physical autopsy, or dissection.  This means that the medical examiner surgically opens the body of the now dead patient.  The pathologist then removes and evaluates the individual body organs, such as the lungs, liver, brain, and heart. The evaluation is conducted both on a macro level, i.e. what the organ looks like from the outside, but also at the microscopic level.  What could not be evaluated when the patient was alive, because the testing or biopsy could have caused the patient’s death, now can be evaluated on a much deeper level.

Toxicology testing or screening is also a part of an autopsy. The toxicology report evaluates the chemical levels in the blood and, when possible, the urine.  The toxicology tests for chemicals including alcohol, as well as legal and illegal drugs. The toxicology can also determine if a patient was taking too little or too much of their prescribed medication.  

One of the complications of toxicology, when compared to blood testing when a patient is alive, is the effect of the body’s decay.  In many movies and TV, they joke about a body exploding due to the buildup of carbon dioxide in a decaying body. Yet, the decaying can have less humorous effects, including the release of chemicals from the liver and spleen (the key organs responsible for detoxifying the body) into the blood system.  This is called postmortem redistribution or after-death exchange of chemicals.  Most medical examiners will draw blood from a patient’s legs to avoid complications of postmortem redistribution. In the alternative, they will rely upon a forensic toxicologist (a person that studies the effects of chemicals on the blood as the body decays) to determine and calculate the rate of decay, so that the test accurately reflects the chemical levels at the time of death.

Finally, the autopsy includes the pathologist looking and reviewing the medical records – ideally – from an objective perspective – to understand the course and treatment of the patient when the patient was alive.  

A common misconception is that an autopsy is the same thing as a death certificate.  They are not the same.  The autopsy is a detailed study on the cause of death, the death certificate is an administrative procedure.  Even if the death certificate is signed by a doctor, there is no further testing or investigation, and many times, the death certificates are signed a stack at a time.  More often, the death certificate is completed by a coroner.  A coroner is an elected official who does not have any specific medical qualifications. 

Autopsies are extremely important in medical malpractice cases. If there is not a proper autopsy, the defendant doctors will come up with alternative hypotheses as to the cause of death.  This is particularly true when the loved one is older.  Older patients have more medical problems, and the greater the number of other medical problems, the easier it is to blame those problems as the cause of death.

Yet, autopsies are important in other situations where a loved one is killed. For example, in a motor vehicle collision, the defendant could argue that your loved one caused the collision, accusing the victim of having some type of impairment, such a medical condition or being drunk.  The autopsy would “take away” those attempts to shift the blame.

Similar arguments may be made in the event that a loved one drowned or was involved in some type of boating accident.  Defendants never take responsibility, and will look to blame someone else, usually the injured party, with allegations of drug abuse, or use of alcohol. In such situations, a toxicology report would reveal drug and alcohol levels.

Autopsies do not benefit plaintiffs over defendants. Rather, autopsies benefit both parties. Sometimes, the driver that is killed in a DUI was drinking.  Likewise, sometimes folks die when they have heart attacks, seizures, or other reasons.  In one potential medical malpractice case, the family told us their loved one died due to a fall, but on the autopsy, there was no blunt force trauma to the skull.  

As such, the autopsy is one of the best ways to get objective and accurate facts as to the cause of death.  However, there are still times that the autopsy leaves open the question of wrongdoing and fault. Worse, sometimes the autopsy report simply is wrong and leads to the wrong conclusion.  Nonetheless, after litigating for over 20 years, I have found most autopsies more helpful than harmful.  So, when in doubt, get the autopsy.

Roger F. Krause, is a wrongful death attorney in Atlanta Georgia. He holds a masters degree in psychology as well as his law degree.  Roger Krause has been fighting for the family of loved ones for more than 20 years.

Unlawful Snooping

As a privacy lawyer, I am frequently asked about cases that arise out of health care workers who snoop on patients’ private medical records. These are often called HIPAA violations, but usually have nothing to do with the potential legal ramifications. HIPAA regulations protect the confidentiality of certain health information, including the patient’s medical records. However, they do not include a private right of action that vests an individual whose medical records have been accessed without authorization or disclosed to others without authorization the right to sue for money damages as a result of this breach of their privacy. Instead, individuals have to look to their own state law for relief.

Hospital employees frequently snoop upon patient’s records. Any time a celebrity or sports figure is in the hospital, it is common for doctors and nurses within the facility to snoop on the record. In addition, snooping occurs when hospital employees are aware that a family member, romantic rival, love interest, or neighbor is in the hospital. All unauthorized access to a medical record is strictly prohibited by the HIPAA regulations.

In a recent case, a radiology technician employed by the Kaiser Permanente Hospital system accessed thousands of patient records over a period spanning almost 10 years. The hospital system will surely claim that the individual was acting outside the scope of his employment and therefore attempt to evade responsibility. However, the hospital has distinct responsibilities under the HIPAA regulations to prevent these types of incursions.

First, the regulations require that a hospital “ensure” that such privacy breaches do not occur. To do so, they have to engage in a number of practices, including training staff, implementing physical and technical safeguards that prevent access by unauthorized individuals and frequent audits to detect when records are being viewed by employees without a business or medical reason to do so. In addition, depending on the state, laws provide that an employer such as a hospital is liable for the acts of its employee if the acts take place while on work time while using access credentials provided by the employer.

As an invasion of privacy lawyer, if I’m contacted by a client complaining of a HIPAA breach, the first course of action is to request that the client contact the offending provider, whether a hospital, nursing home, or other health care provider, and request an audit of their record. The HIPAA regulations require providers to conduct an audit and report the results of the audit to the patient and to the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, the affected party can contact the Department of Health and Human Services and initiate a complaint for the HIPAA violation.

If the provider substantiates a violation of the patient’s HIPAA rights, a claim for breach of privacy can be brought to recover compensation for harm caused by the breach of privacy.  Your next call should be to a privacy lawyer.

Collecting Compensation When You’re To Blame for a Motorcycle Crash

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

As a motorcycle accident lawyer in MD from a law office like  the Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. can explain, when an auto accident occurs, there’s typically one party at fault and another party not at fault. 

If your accident was partially your own fault, is there a way you can collect compensation from the insurer? In the case of a motorcycle accident, there’s a possibility you could collect at least partial compensation when you’re partially to blame.

States With Comparative Fault

In states with a comparative fault system, you can often receive compensation minus the percentage you were at fault for the accident. For example, if your motorcycle accident was 80% your fault, you could be able to collect 20% compensation. To prove you hold less responsibility, you need to have solid evidence, so it’s important to always keep track of witnesses, medical bills and photographs of the scene.

States With Modified Comparative Fault

In states that have a modified comparative fault system, you can receive compensation to a certain percentage if you are less than 50% or 51% at fault for the accident. The percentage threshold depends on the state you’re in. Your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault you have in the accident. For example, if you are in a motorcycle accident and the court determines you hold 30% of the blame, you would only be able to collect 70% of the compensation.

States With Contributory Fault

In states that have a contributory fault system, you will not be able to collect any compensation if you hold even a small percentage of blame in your motorcycle accident. For example, if a court determines that by paying better attention, you could have avoided a crash caused by another motorist, you might be assigned a small percentage of blame, such as 5%. Even that small 5% would eliminate your ability to seek compensation.

How To Seek Compensation Elsewhere

If you feel the insurance company isn’t offering you as much as you deserve, you might be able to file a lawsuit. Medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, property damages, and punitive damages might be necessary for you to fully financially recover from your accident, and if someone else caused the situation, you should be compensated. A lawyer can help create and file a document to sue the other driver or individual who caused the accident.

Getting Started Today

The law is different from state to state, so when you’re in a motorcycle accident, you should speak with a lawyer who can explain what you’re up against. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer today so you can get started.

Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you’ve lost a loved one, it’s difficult, no matter the circumstances. However, the circumstances can make it even more difficult, especially when those circumstances involve negligence. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer  can help to bring you and your family closure. The more experienced the lawyer, the better, and the Therman Law Offices, LTD and other similar offices have enough experience under their belts to put your minds at rest while you are trying to grieve and process the death of a loved one. 

Let’s dive into the benefits of hiring a wrongful death lawyer, and how they can help your family and loved ones.

The Legal Process

Your lawyer is going to understand the legal processes that surround a wrongful death. Your lawyer is going to typically specialize in wrongful death cases and have a detailed expertise in this field. This is great because the legal processes can be extensive and often differ between states. Your lawyer is going to have the knowledge to help build your case, from what is relevant to what is not relevant to the case. 

There are legal documents that must be completed and filed, and if they are done wrong your case can fall apart. Having a wrongful death lawyer will ensure that your documentations are filled out right and filed correctly. 

Furthermore, these cases can be time consuming and this is especially true if you attempt to go through this process on your own. You don’t have the knowledge that you’d need to properly navigate the legal situations involved in a wrongful death case, but a wrongful death lawyer does. And they can save you time and money because this process is very complicated and there’s a lot of strict deadlines. 

The details of your case can require a lot of time to determine, especially if you attempt to tackle this by yourself. With a lawyer at your side, though, you can grieve and spend time with your family while you heal from your emotional pain.

Because your wrongful death lawyer has experience in this area, dealing with similar situations to your own, they’ll be able to value your claim. This is more or less a guesstimate of how much your claim is worth, but it’d be a good basis for a starting point, to ensure that you don’t go any lower than what your lawyer values the case at. 

When valuing a wrongful death case, your lawyer is going to take into consideration:

  • Medical expenses that you paid or are in-debted to over your loved one’s care.
  • The cost of the funeral.
  • Any lost earnings or income, especially true if your loved one was the primary “breadwinner” in the family.
  • Pain and suffering of both your loved one and your family.

Wrongful death lawyers have seen a lot, and they’ve handled a lot of different cases with different circumstances. Find a lawyer you trust to help you handle the tedious paperwork and details of a court case, so you can grieve with your family.

What Is a Brain Injury?

A brain injury can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe and is a major cause of disability or death in the United States. They occur from a blow to the head or body, or from an object piercing the brain tissue. Mild brain injuries can result in temporary issues, while more severe injuries can result in long-term complications or death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 166 traumatic brain injury deaths occur per day in the United States. Many different things can cause a brain injury, but some of the more common causes include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Falls
  • Assaults or abuse
  • Self-inflicted gunshots

If you or your child has received a blow to the head or body that results in symptoms or changed behavior, seek medical attention. A brain injury in children can affect their development. Symptoms can be missed in older adults if they present as a different, previously diagnosed issue. Several signs can alert you to see a doctor.

Mild Brain Injury Symptoms

Some physical symptoms to watch for are dizziness, speech issues, headache, nausea, and drowsiness. These symptoms can appear even if the brain injury is relatively mild.

Sensory symptoms can include ringing ears, sensitivity to light or sound, blurred vision, altered taste, or the inability to smell.

Additional symptoms can include confusion, abnormal sleep patterns, loss of consciousness, depression, or memory issues.

Moderate To Severe Brain Injury Symptoms

With a moderate to severe injury, physical symptoms can include losing consciousness, ongoing headaches, seizures, nausea, eye pupil dilation, coordination issues, and the inability to wake up.

Cognitive symptoms may include confusion, slurred speech, irritability or unusual behavior, and even a coma. Some symptoms may not present until years later.

While preventing brain injuries is difficult, there are precautions you can take. Wearing a helmet when appropriate, buckling your seatbelt, and staying alert of your surroundings, to name a few. Substances that can alter your state while driving should be avoided.  Brain injuries can cause ongoing issues for years and can be pretty complex. Medical expenses can add up over time.  If you believe another party’s negligence caused your brain injury, you should contact a lawyer specializing in personal injury. A brain injury lawyer like one from Hall Justice Law Firm can help you collect evidence and ensure you are seeking proper medical attention. You may be able to recoup expenses, including medical treatment, lost wages, therapy, and pain and suffering. It is an important phone call that could make a huge difference in your life as a brain injury victim.

Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident

When you get into a car accident because of another driver, your life can change in an instant. If you have been seriously, contacting a trusted car accident lawyer like one from Ward & Ward Law Firm. After a car accident, it is common for many victims to be stuck with expenses, such as medical bills, property damage, vehicle repairs and more. 

Knowing what to do if you get injured in a collision can keep you safe, protected and prepared. It is also a good idea to be aware of crucial mistakes that you should avoid so that you don’t run into any issues. Avoid these mistakes below if you are ever injured in a car accident.

Not seeking medical attention

You have just gotten into a car accident and notice that you feel bruised and sore, but believe that you are overall fine. Because you feel okay, you tell a first responder that you are fine and that you don’t need medical treatment. 

This is a big mistake that many people make. Even if you have minor injuries you should always receive an immediate medical evaluation from a doctor or other medical professional following an accident. You may have injuries that are not visible to you, and having a professional write a medical report is a strong piece of evidence to have as part of your claim. 

Apologizing or admitting guilt

After an accident, you feel guilty or feel that you have partially contributed to the accident. You express your guilt and apologize to the other driver. Expressing guilt or apologizing is something you should never do after an accident. Your words can be used against you, and it may affect how the outcome of your case turns out. 

Accepting the first settlement offer

Many people accept the first settlement offer that is given to them. Taking the first offer that comes your way is not something you should do because it is likely that it is not the best deal you can receive. Insurance companies will rarely give you the highest compensation. Ask a car accident lawyer to review any settlement offers that come your way so they can determine if it is fair.

Hiring a lawyer is recommended if you have suffered injuries that you are struggling to pay for. Schedule a risk-free and confidential case evaluation with a car accident lawyer now so that you can learn more about your options and how to best move forward with your case.

How to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

Getting into a motorcycle accident is a frightening and life-changing experience. It can leave motorcyclists with injuries that can take months to recover from or even a permanent disability. Though you are not able to control how other people drive on the road, you can minimize your chances of getting into a serious accident by practicing safe, cautious and defensive driving. Be aware of the following mistakes so that you can avoid getting into an accident. 

Weaving through Lanes of Traffic

Because motorcycles are smaller and faster than many other vehicles on the road, some motorcyclists cross multiple lanes of traffic at once. This practice is dangerous and discouraged because you may strike other vehicles in your path, especially vehicles changing lanes or merging onto the road. Other drivers don’t have enough warning and fail to see you so they may strike your motorcycle as well. 

Making Improper Left Turns

Left-turn collisions make up a large portion of motorcycle accidents. They are common at four-way stops or at intersections where there are unprotected left turns. Some drivers are in a rush and turn too early when other vehicles from the opposite direction are traveling at a high speed. When a driver makes a poorly timed left turn, they can get into a T-bone accident, where another vehicle strikes them from the side. This can result in catastrophic injuries. 

Illegal Lane Splitting 

Do not lane split while you are riding a motorcycle. Though lane splitting is permitted in some areas, it is against the law in the state of Washington. Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle in between two lanes while traffic is slow or at a standstill. It poses many risks, but many motorcyclists lane split because it is convenient and allows them to easily go through traffic. 

Driving Under the Influence

As one of the most common violations of traffic law, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a problem across all states. Despite the dangers, too many people underestimate how substances will impair their senses. Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable because motorcycles lack the protections that a car or truck have. Avoid operating a motorcycle or any type of vehicle if you have had a drink or have taken drugs or other substances. 

Do your part to stay safe on the road and keep other people safe. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident where you have partial blame or the accident was caused by another driver, you may benefit from speaking with a motorcycle accident lawyer like one from Park Chenaur & Associates, Inc., P.S., Schedule a free consultation with a lawyer to explore your legal options.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims

A car accident, workplace injury, or any other personal injury can be life-altering. Depending on the severity of the injuries, recoveries can take months or years and sometimes have no set improvement date, meaning career and social life change.

It is natural after sustaining an injury, psychological or physical, you would want to wait until you were fully evaluated and healed before considering a lawsuit to seek compensation. Whether your reasoning is purely out of respect for your healing process or because you want a finite number for damages, you might need to reconsider waiting. 

Statute of Limitations

Depending on where you live and the type of accident, you might have less than two years to file a claim. In general, most states provide a statute of limitations of two years on person injury lawsuits, meaning you have 730 days to sue the at-fault party for compensation.

While that might sound like a lot of time, it is not a specific number for all states or all accidents. For example, in some jurisdictions, if you are injured while riding government-funded transportation, you might only have a few months to make a claim.

Exceptions to the Rule

If an individual is incapacitated because of an accident, a judge can allow a family member to file a claim on their behalf, especially if the two-year deadline is approaching. However, the exception is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, so there are no guarantees.

Additionally, if a minor is injured during an accident, they might have more time to file a claim. Most states with the two-year statute specify it as a rule for people of legal age or 18. If a child of 14 receives an injury in an accident, they should have the four years until their 18th birthday and the two years provided by the statute, meaning they will have six years to file a claim against the at-fault party.

Legal Advice and Intervention

Before filing any lawsuit in a personal injury claim, it is best to talk to a personal injury lawyer like one from Greenspan & Greenspan P.C. They can often provide insight into the likely success of the claim, and they can intervene on your behalf to argue for more time or other case specifics. 

If you would like to learn more about the personal injury process or about specific statutes in your state, contact a local attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation.

Reporting Nursing Home Abuse

Personal Injury Lawyer

A trip to visit your aging parent in the nursing home should be one that fills you with joy. Instead, if you find yourself feeling like something is wrong or off, you should not ignore it. Sometimes, there may be misconduct or negligence happening behind closed doors. While you may spot some of the physical indications of abuse, there are also invisible indicators that things are amiss. If you find yourself wondering about how your parent is being treated when you aren’t there, you may want to get help. Here are some of the steps you can take to ensure your parent is safe.

Nursing Home Director

If you have suspicions that something is wrong with your parent, you may want to take it up with the nursing home director first. The reaction to your report may help you gauge the level of care at the facility. There are times where the director is not aware that staff members are not doing their jobs. Make an appointment to see the director if possible and bring your list of concerns. Document the steps the director sets out for rectifying any issues you raise.

Physicians

Someone who should be able to spot the physical signs of abuse is your parent’s physician. There are some clear physical indicators of nursing home abuse or neglect, including:

  • Skin ulcers or bedsores
  • Injuries in all stages of healing
  • Malnutrition
  • Frequent illness or infection

If you suspect that your parent is not being cared for or abused, you may want to make an appointment with the physician and get things checked out. The doctor has an ethical duty to report abuse indications.

Police

Your local authorities may be your first or last call if you believe your parent is being abused. The police must come out and do a full report. As part of their investigation, they will interview the staff, administration and even other residents. There may be other reports for the same facility that you do not know about. The police will also call elder services, a sector of social services. Eldercare social workers can drop in and monitor your parent for continuing signs of abuse or neglect in your absence.

All aging people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If you have a strong suspicion that there is something wrong at your parent’s care facility, a consultation with a lawyer, like a nursing home abuse lawyer from Wieand Law Firm, LLC, may be warranted. An advocate who knows the system may be just the person you need on your side.

How Long Do I Have to Go to a Doctor After a Motorcycle Accident Caused by Standing Water?

Personal Injury Lawyer

Standing water impairs traction, making it difficult for motorcycle tires to maintain a grip on the road. Poor drainage from road surfaces poses a challenge for even the most skilled rider.

Standing water also conceals hazardous road defects. Motorcyclists can try to maneuver around visible potholes. When the pothole is filled with and surrounded by standing water, an unsuspecting rider is at risk of blowing a tire or losing balance after riding into it.

Other road defects may be hidden by standing water including ridges, cracks in the pavement, and uneven pavement surfaces. Riders are at risk of hitting debris that could puncture tires or damage wheels when the debris is covered by water.

The government that owns the road has the obligation to maintain it. Maintenance includes removing draining obstructions so that water is not allowed to pool in the road. Unfortunately, government leaders are so afraid of raising taxes that road maintenance suffers.

When a government neglects its duty to maintain roads, motorcyclists who are injured because of standing water can bring a legal claim. State laws typically require them to give notice of that claim shortly after the accident occurs. Failing to give that notice can result in a loss of the opportunity to make a claim for compensation against the government.

A motorcycle accident lawyer, like a motorcycle accident lawyer from Butler Law Firm, can investigate the circumstances of the accident and advise the injury victim of the deadline for filing a notice of claim. Contacting a lawyer after an accident caused by standing water should be one of the injured motorcyclist’s first priorities.

Is There a Time Limit for Going to a Doctor After a Motorcycle Accident Caused by Standing Water?

While there are time limits for filing a notice of claim and starting a lawsuit, no law places a deadline on seeing a doctor after a motorcycle accident. There are nevertheless practical reasons for doing so as soon as possible.

Prompt treatment can save lives. While serious injuries will often result in emergency room treatment, the severity of an injury is not always obvious. When a rider’s body slams against the pavement or a bike falls onto the rider’s chest, the rider may suffer from internal bleeding or organ damage. Riders might not know that the injury is serious until it is too late to treat.

Head injuries can cause bleeding or swelling in the brain. The only symptom may be a mild headache until sudden pain leads to death. An immediate evaluation can mean the difference between survival and death.

Prompt treatment also encourages healing. Trying to “walk off” an injury might only increase the damage. Injuries to muscles and joints can cause lasting pain that eventually becomes debilitating if treatment does not begin immediately. Motorcyclists might condemn themselves to a lifetime of disabling pain if they do not see a doctor immediately after a crash.

Seeing a Doctor After a Motorcycle Accident Caused by Standing Water Improves the Outcome of Injury Claims

Governments employ claims managers to evaluate legal claims. They typically view their job as protecting the government’s budget by denying claims whenever they can.

Claims managers scrutinize an injured motorcyclist’s medical records. If the motorcycle rider did not seek prompt treatment, the claims manager will deny that any eventual treatment was related to the standing water. They will argue that the treatment must be related to a later accident, because people who are injured in an accident usually seek treatment right away.

Claims managers also look for treatment gaps. If an injured rider decides to ignore a doctor’s advice and blows off appointments, the claims manager will assume the injury healed and will attribute renewed treatment to a new injury. Seeing a doctor quickly and following treatment recommendations is the best way to protect a motorcycle rider’s ability to obtain compensation.