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Sexual Misconduct By School Teachers

Seemingly every week, there is a new story about an improper relationship between a teacher and an underage student.  Almost all of these relationships are both morally wrong and against the law.

In criminal court, the prosecutor must prove every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  That’s the highest possible standard of proof.  But in civil court, the victim/plaintiff must establish a case with a preponderance of the evidence, or “more likely than not.”  So, even if the authorities refuse to take cup the case or unsuccessfully prosecute the perpetrator, the victim may be able to obtain justice in civil court, as a civil sexual assault lawyer Atlanta GA trusts can explain.

Individual Liability

Many states have laws that prohibit any relationship of a sexual nature between teachers and their students.  These prohibitions are usually very broad, and include not only sexual contact, but also lesser acts. If that is the case, and the perpetrator caused injury, the victim may be entitled to compensation.  The injury need not be a physical one, because courts have repeatedly held that things like poor grades or an unwillingness to engage in certain activities satisfy the damages requirement.

Even if such laws do not exist or are inapplicable in that case, many schools have policies that prohibit any non-educational relationships between students and teachers.  If that is the case, violating a written policy creates a presumption of negligence, at least in most cases, making damages easier to obtain in court.

School District Liability

The individual is usually not the only person responsible for damages.  Largely to help ensure that the school district accepts responsibility and makes changes, these entities are often liable for damages as well.

If the complained-of acts occurred at school, the district is normally vicariously (indirectly) liable, under the respondeat superior rule.  This doctrine applies if the conduct occurred within the course and scope of employment.  Some courts have held that, if the acts did not occur at school, this doctrine does not apply.

Direct liability may be available as well.  The victim may file a claim against the school district for a teacher’s sexual misconduct based on:

  • Negligent Hiring: If the school failed to conduct a proper background check, or perhaps knew about a history of incidents but elected to give the person a “second chance,” the school district may be responsible for damages.
  • Negligent Supervision: Sometimes, the issue arises during the person’s employment, and the school district does not do anything, does not do enough to stop the conduct, or does not even know about it.

In each case, the victim must prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence, as outlined above.

 


Thanks to our contributors from Butler Tobin for their insights into sexual misconduct by religions leaders.

 

Big Rig Personal Injury Settlements

When a person has fallen victim to a trucking accident, the settlement is likely to be larger than the average automobile accident. There are a number of reasons that this is often true. There is no standard settlement amount in trucking accidents because there are many factors that must be considered.

Valuing the Settlement

The settlement that you are entitled to will depend on the factors that caused the accident. Working with an attorney, like a truck accident lawyer Phoenix AZ relies on, will be helpful as they can look over the details of your specific case. They will be able to determine a value for the compensation you are entitled to. Your attorney will factor the following when valuing the settlement:

  • Restrictions around insurance coverage.
  • Whether or not you are partially responsible for the accident, known as, comparative negligence.
  • Who is liable for the accident or if multiple parties involved should share liability.  

Collecting Damages

Compensatory damages may be available for victims if the cause of the accident was due to the trucker’s negligence or the truck malfunctioned. When the trucker is responsible, their attorney will work with the insurance company to negotiate a settlement. If they are unable to come to an agreement around settlement terms, often the case will go to court.  

Often a victim will collect damages for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Damaged property such as the car you were driving
  • Lost wages from time away from work

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence may take effect if the victim was partially responsible for the accident. If a victim is found responsible for a portion of the accident, the settlement they are hoping to collect may be less. For example, if the court determines that the victim was 50% responsible for the accident, the other person may be entitled to recover 50% of damages.

Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages

When the trucker responsible for the accident was found grossly negligent, the victim may be entitled to an accident settlement that is much higher than the average trucking accident settlement. In situations where gross negligence is at play, punitive damages may apply. If found guilty of gross negligence, it has been proved that they intentionally caused harm to the victim of the accident. As a result, a trucker may be required to pay punitive damages to the victim.

In almost all situations, working with an attorney will be in your best interest if you or a loved one have suffered from a truck accident. Attorneys with experience in handling trucking cases can be valuable in negotiating with other attorneys, the courts and even insurance companies. An attorney can be vital in ensuring that the settlement you receive is one that you are entitled to.  


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead for their insight into personal injury and truck accident cases.

 

Coffee-Maker Importer Fined $2 Million for Not Reporting Dangerous Defect

 

Importer Spectrum Brands Inc. has been ordered to pay $1.9 million dollars for its failure to report a known defect in a Black & Decker coffee maker that caused handles on the carafes to break suddenly, leading to several reports of burns.

Judge William M. Conley of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin issued the judgment, which requires the importer to pay a fine to the federal government. The judge also issued an injunction that requires Spectrum Brands Inc. to comply with the Consumer Product Safety Act, a set of laws that established the Consumer Product Safety Commission and gives it the authority to issue product recalls and bans to protect the public.

According to an opinion issued by the judge, Spectrum and Applica, a brand Spectrum bought in 2011, had systems designed to spot safety issues in products before they hit the market and monitored the market after products were introduced, but these safety compliance programs failed in this case. The company was also ordered to revamp those programs and report back to the court on their progress as part of the order.

Applica and Spectrum imported and distributed more than 159,000 Black & Decker SpaceMaker Under-the-Cabinet coffee makers between 2008 and 2012. In late 2008, the company started receiving complaints from consumers regarding the handle on the coffee marker’s glass carafe. When the carafe was full of hot coffee, its handle would suddenly detach or break off. In the end, the importer received more than 1,600 such reports, including over 65 reports of burns.

Over the course of early 2009, Spectrum reviewed the defect and imported a redesigned carafe. However, they continued to distribute their remaining stock of the defective model despite being aware of the flaw. It was not until April of 2012 when Spectrum finally reported this defect to the Consumer Product Safety Commission after it received a class action complaint over the handles. Despite issuing a recall that year, the government discovered that the company still sold around 640 of the defective units afterward.

Spectrum argued many positions in court, including that they did not have to report the defect because the commission was already informed of the risk and that the defect reporting requirements set by the commission were too vague. However, the judge found that the commission had not been properly informed because Spectrum received far more complaints and injury reports than the consumer protection body did.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers have sold or distributed defective products over the years for many reasons, including failure to develop a proper consumer risk assessment and safety program and a lack of general oversight. While the Consumer Product Safety Commission continues to work to protect consumers, it’s likely there will always be some products managing to fall through the cracks.

Unsafe products can lead to injuries, pain and even death. If you have been harmed by a defective product, speak to a product liability or defective product lawyer Denver CO can count on about your case and all of your rights as soon as possible.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into defective products and personal injury practice.

Top 3 Causes of Car Accident Fatalities

The average person has a 1 in 114 overall lifetime odds of dying in a car accident, whether as an occupant, driver, or pedestrian, as a car accident lawyer West Palm Beach FL relies on can attest. In any given year, that translates into a 1 in 9,008 chance. Of course, auto accidents were only the second highest cause of death behind overdoses and unintentional poisonings in 2014, so the lifetime odds make a little more sense. Still, in addition to the usual tips for safe driving and overall death avoidance, it is also helpful to avoid becoming a statistic by knowing the top three causes of death in car accidents.

#3: Drunk driving: whether you are the drunk driver or you are hit by a drunk driver, this is the third top cause of fatalities involving cars. Overall, drunk driving as a cause of fatal crashes in the United States has declined significantly since 1982, due in part to increased awareness of drunk driving, better enforcement and punishment of it, increase in the legal age to drink to 21, and lowering the blood alcohol content (BAC) necessary to be considered intoxicated.  However, it still represents a large proportion of annual fatalities. In 2015, almost one-third of accident fatalities were due to drunk driving which translated into 10,265 lives lost. Fatal crashes caused by drivers who were impaired by alcohol were four times as likely to happen at night as during the day.

#2 Speeding: To say that our nation as a whole is in a general hurry would be an understatement. In the world we created with instant gratification on so many levels, it shouldn’t be surprising that speeding has become a big problem as well. Speeding has also become much easier due to cars that routinely offer engines boasting horsepower that rivals NASCAR engines of past generations. This also leads to the inconvenient truth that a large proportion – 31 percent in 2007 and 27 percent in 2015 – of car accident fatalities are due to speeding. The estimated total cost of speeding-related crashes in 2000 was $40.4 billion. This is true even despite the increased overall safety of cars and better enforcement of speeding. Other factors that contribute to the speeding epidemic include cheap gas and a booming economy that allows people to buy larger and more powerful cars without breaking too much economic sweat.

#1 Distracted Driving: The accidents caused by distracted driving run the gamut of traffic violations from failure to yield, failure to stop, failure to stay in the proper lane and failure to obey signs. Any one of these failures can and usually does lead to an accident and in some unfortunate cases, fatalities. There must be distraction of which there is no shortage. Texting, taking selfies (yes, really), applying makeup, eating, reading, and hair maintenance – really, doing anything that takes your attention away from driving – increase your chances of getting into an accident.

Of course, the worst distracted driving habits revolve around smartphones. A person texting while driving is 23 times more likely to have an accident than someone who is not texting.  Just using a handheld device makes a person four times more likely to crash. Consider that in 2015, a survey of high school students found that 42 percent – almost half – reported having sent a text or e-mail while driving. Not surprisingly, drivers aged 15 to 19 reported the highest percentage of fatalities due to distracted driving.   

 


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Luckman, P.A. for their insight into car accident cases.

 

Slip and Fall at Work

Will You be Covered?

Experiencing a slip and fall while you are at work can be very overwhelming for most. You are most likely in pain and discomfort, and you might not even be able to work. Workers compensation exists so that it can help provide you with money for your medical expenses, physical injury and often times your lost wages. If you have been injured in this type of accident while you are working, this article can provide you with tips to understanding workers compensation and what it covers, how you can prove that you fell, and to be proactive in your case against your employer.

Where Were You Injured?

The main rule of workers compensation is that you had to have been working at the time of the slip and fall in order to be able to be compensated. If you were clocked out on your lunch break, you will most likely not be covered. However, if you were doing a work task like lifting boxes that were too heavy and somehow slipped and were injured, you will be covered. In the event that you have a preexisting condition and your accident  causes your injury to get worse or even return, you may be covered!

How Can You Prove You Fell?

Proving that you were hurt while working is not the simplest of tasks sometimes. This is common when workers are injured while in a company vehicle on business. If you were delivering something and then stopped for lunch on the way back and slipped and fell, you may not be covered for workers compensation because you were running a personal errand. Be sure to take pictures of the scene where you were injured, write up where you were, when it occurred, anyone who was around and exactly what happened. If any witnesses were present, have them write a testimonial, date, and sign it.

Can You Sue Your Employer?

If you choose to accept worker’s compensation, you almost always cannot sue your employer. Workers compensation is put into place so that it can protect your employer from lawsuits such as slip and falls. Suing your employer means choosing between definite workers compensation or the possibility that you may receive more money through a lawsuit. That chance is up to you.

Contact an Attorney

If your employer is not self-insured and does not have workers compensation, you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer Memphis TN relies on so that you can sue for lost wages and medical costs.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Wiseman Bray PLLC for their insight into slip and fall accidents.

Path of a Personal Injury Case

Being involved in a personal injury accident is fun for no one. Dealing with pain and insurance companies, giving up seems like an easier option. You are entitled to compensation for the damages that someone else has inflicted on you or by way of negligence of another party.

The most common types of personal injury are motor vehicle accidents, work accidents, and premises liability. You can go on with medical negligence, industrial diseases, and product liability. The most common by far is the motor vehicle accident. This could include boating, motorcycle, dune buggy, and an 18 wheeler. It’s not just limited to cars or trucks. Premises liability would include slip and falls and dog bites. Premises liability is the liability for certain accidents that occur if one owns the land, they would be responsible.

Being confused by the process of a personal injury claim is quite common. There are many things to do, so where do you start? Hire a personal injury attorney, like a personal injury lawyer Arlington TX relies on. They will be able to answer questions and point you in the right direction. Hiring a personal injury attorney could increase the amount you receive in a settlement. Make sure you go with an attorney that you are comfortable with. Find different attorneys and interview until you are confident that you have found the one that best suits you.

The statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a claim for a personal injury accident. In some states, an individual has 2 years from the date of accident to file a claim. Once this statute has you are no longer able to sue for personal injuries. Always keep an eye on the statute of limitations.

Understanding the process of a personal injury claim will help you get through what feels like may take longer than needed. Feel free to ask questions, make sure you know what the next steps are. Has the attorney sent the letter of representation to the at fault party? Has the party answered? Did you have a lot of treatment? It may take longer to get the bills and records for every treatment facility. If you have treated for a long period of time, there may not be anything happening with the case just yet. Once a letter has been sent to the at fault party or insurance company, generally, you will wait on getting some sort of correspondence in return. After treatment is complete and the bills and records have been received, a demand will be written. A demand letter is a letter written to the at fault party/insurance company requesting they pay compensation for the damages you have incurred. This will include hard damages (medical bills, prescriptions, etc.) as well as mental anguish and such.

Once the demand has been sent and reviewed, most of the time an offer will be given unless they have chosen to deny the claim. Once an offer is received negotiations will start. This is generally the quickest part of the process. Your attorney will be able to advise you if the offer is fair or determine what would be fair comparatively to the damages. If an agreement is not reached, then the case will be put into litigation and moved forward with the court system.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm PLLC for their insight into personal injury practice.

Elder Abuse and Neglect

While no one wants to place their loved ones in a nursing home, there are situations that occur that exceed our areas of expertise.  We are truly taking chances by placing our loved ones in the care of trained professionals, however, often times the option to care for them in your home may be impossible.  Countless agencies advertise assisted living for the elderly and despite the research and due diligence when seeking nursing home services, it remains a gamble.  More and more people are enlisting the assistance of third party entities to do the grunt work and visiting the ones they deem suitable.

For example, if you have a loved one that resides in a nursing home and you have witnessed any abuse or observed injury that could have been caused by please do not sit idly by and allow it to go unaddressed.  While you are not the one in the nursing facility, your loved one may be there because they cannot take care of themselves and have counted on you to find someone who can better assist them with the day to day activities.  One should take the mantra to see something and say something, no matter who may get offended.  If possible, ask questions and take down names of those providing both direct and indirect care to your loved one. Nevertheless, you should remember that the incident occurred through no fault of your own and you should seek help immediately.  The most important factor is getting someone involved who can assist.

Not knowing what to do in a situation where a loved one has been mistreated and possibly irreparable damages are done, please reach out to a legal professional for clarity.  If you’re not certain as to who you can reach out to, contacting your local aid society or researching on the internet to find someone who can better advise you of what your rights are.  A skilled attorney would be able to aid you through the process of determining what, if any compensation is due to you following an accident that results in your being injured.  By seeking the expertise of an experienced attorney, you will get answers to your questions and directions on the next step, if there is one that will get you some results.  Reach out to an attorney, like a personal injury attorney Dekalb County GA residents can trusts, to find out what can be done to make you whole again.

attorney andrew r lynch attorney at law atlanta georgiaThanks to our friends and contributors from Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into elder abuse and neglect.