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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wife Files Lawsuit After Husband Killed in Golf Cart Incident

Can I recover for a totally unforeseeable, unexpected personal injury? 

As any personal injury lawyer can attest, foreseeability is one (of many) issues that can arise in an injury or wrongful death lawsuit. More specifically, a defendant can escape liability upon showing that the incident and injury were so unforeseeable, unpredictable and unlikely, that no reasonable person would be expected to take safeguards against that type of risk. Like many aspects of a negligence lawsuit, foreseeability is generally a question of fact for a jury to consider – and could really swing either way in a close case. 

Do not be confused, however, with the concept of foreseeability versus frequency, as the rate of occurrence of a particular injury is generally irrelevant if that injury is reasonably foreseeable – and, therefore, reasonably avoidable. 

Take, for instance, a recent injury lawsuit filed in Fort Bend County involving a victim’s sudden and tragic death while aboard a golf cart. Of course, golf carts travel at a relatively low rate of speed and are not generally associated with severe personal injuries or death. This does not mean, however, that a successful plaintiff could not recover the costs of an injury sustained while riding on this type of vehicle. And, as in today’s case, a plaintiff may also be able to recover under the Texas wrongful death statute upon a showing of negligence by the driver, manufacturer, and/or any other individual involved in the accident. 

While the full details of the incident have yet to be released, the grieving widow has alleged that her husband suffered a severe head injury after falling from the back seat of a golf cart while touring a prospective apartment complex for a new home. In this particular case, the wife has sued the leasing agent – who was driving the cart at the time – for the wrongful death of her husband, who died eight days after the fall from massive head trauma. 

In the words of the surviving widow, “I wasn't prepared for this, and it was just so unexpected….”

Also named in the lawsuit is the company that owns the apartment complex that employed the leasing agent at the time. 

If you were recently injured in an unexpected or unforeseeable accident, do not give up hope – you may have rights! For more information, contact the Dallas, Texas personal injury attorneys at the Sawicki Law Firm today: (888) 468-8844. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Family Sues Climbing Gym Over Alleged Injuries

What legal duties does a recreational climbing center have to its guests?

In a recent personal injury lawsuit filed against a Dallas-area recreational climbing facility, a father has alleged on behalf of his 7-year old son that the facility was exceptionally negligent in not only failing to supervise its youth guests, but in asking untrained parents attending a birthday party to make up for understaffing on the day in question. 

According to the complaint, a 7-year old was using the gym’s sliding equipment when he suddenly fell from the top of the apparatus to the hard floor below. As a result, the child suffered a severe break in the growth plate area of his elbow, requiring follow-up surgery and lifelong monitoring. According to the child’s father, the true extent of the damage will not be totally realized until he is full grown – and his attempts to reach an amicable settlement with the gym have proven futile over the past 12 months, prompting a civil lawsuit. 

Liability and risk at recreational climbing centers

The public facts of the lawsuit do not provide detail as to whether the parent was asked to sign a liability waiver prior to using the facility, however this practice is not uncommon in facilities such as the one involved here. Nonetheless, these waivers are typically met with scrutiny by Texas courts, particularly if the language is vague, difficult to understand, or ambiguous – leaving personal injury victims with the opportunity to seek redress in negligence even if a waiver was signed. 

If the facility did not ask the parties to sign a waiver, they are under a strict duty to provide adequate supervision, safe equipment, and proper warning signs in the proximity of danger. Here, the facts suggest that the facility not only failed to provide adequate supervision of child patrons, it required non-employee guests to supplement for short staffing – a measure which could undoubtedly lead to a finding of negligence. 

If you recently experienced an injury at a gym or recreational facility and would like to discuss your rights, please do not hesitate to contact the Dallas, Texas personal injury attorneys at the Sawicki Law Firm today: 888-468-8844. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Texas Campground Sued After Child Struck With Arrow

What are the civil procedures involved in suing on behalf of a child in Texas?

In Texas, minors must be represented by an adult in order to advance a personal injury lawsuit against an individual or business. Oftentimes, lawsuits on behalf of child plaintiffs are filed by the victim’s parent or guardian, and captioned “In re” or “In the matter of.” From there, the child – through his or her representative – sets forth the factual allegations just as he would as an adult, including establishing the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff and the causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the resulting injury to the child. 

Child suffers injury following birthday party catastrophe

According to a recent lawsuit filed in Dallas County, Texas, a 7-year old boy was severely injured after being struck by an arrow during archery practice at a popular resort area. Allegedly, despite the absence of staff or supervisors, children were engaging in target practice with actual archery equipment. The child, who had gone to retrieve his arrows from his target, was hit in the head with an arrow launched by his own brother, who did not realize the child was standing in the target area. 

According to the complaint, the resort should have implemented a better monitoring system of the children engaged in archery practice, and should not have allowed the children to participate in such a dangerous activity unsupervised. As a result of the injury, the child is expected to suffer lifelong consequences and need medical treatment costing at least $2 million. Sadly, the injury occurred amidst the child’s birthday party celebration – one the parents will never forget. 
Settlements and verdicts in favor of children

If a child is awarded a sizable verdict or settlement following a personal injury, these monies are usually placed in trust until the child reaches a certain age. A trustee – who could be a parent, close relative, or financial institution – manages the money during this time. Oftentimes, these trust assets are used for the medical care and treatment of the child, as well as to provide for the family’s expenses in the event round-the-clock care is required. 

If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit or would like to discuss your options with an experienced lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact the Dallas, Texas Sawicki Law Firm today at (888)468-8844.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Texas Legislature Enacts Two New Bills Regarding Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

What is the latest news regarding personal injury litigation in Texas? 

The year 2015 has seen several resounding legislative developments in the state of Texas – including two recent bills presented to the governor for signature in May. 

The first involves a growing procedural complexity within the civil court system, presumably spawned by the ever-increasing global format of commerce and industry. HB 1692, which was sent for signature on May 26, 2015, involves the civil procedure concept known as forum non conveniens, or – in English – and inconvenient forum. The concept generally allows a defendant to motion to change the location of a civil lawsuit from one court to another in order to mitigate hardships relating to extensive travel and/or over-publicity of a certain issue within a geographical area. 

HB 1692 works to remove a certain provision within the current statute that prevents a defendant from successfully motioning to change location when at least one plaintiff in the action is a legal resident of Texas. In other words, the legal status of a plaintiff as a Texas resident – which rarely reflects its actual, practical state of residence/headquarters – will no longer be enough to defeat a motion under forum non conveniens, unless the incident in question happened within the state of Texas. In essence, the bill is designed to protect the jam-packed Texas dockets from having to preside over personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits that have little – if anything – to do with the state. 

HB 735, which was sent to the governor on May 30, 2015, works to add a definition of “net worth” to the civil code while simultaneously limiting the circumstances in which one party can unearth the total net worth of another. The bill follows a string of Texas cases that permit courts to asses a defendant’s net worth when determining an appropriate punitive damages amount, however courts were not afforded a framework or guideline in order to make such a determination. 

Using HB 735, courts are authorized to allow discovery of a defendant’s net worth only where a plaintiff has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of a punitive damages claim. Further, trial courts must mandate plaintiffs use the “least burdensome” method available to quantify net worth, which has been officially defined as “the total assets of a person minus the total liabilities of the person on a date determined appropriate by the trial court.”

If you are considering a personal injury lawsuit and are not sure how to calculate damages – or even where to file – contact the Dallas, Texas personal injury Sawicki Law Firm today at (888)468-8844. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Texas Man Awarded $44 Million After Major Leg Injury on Construction Site

Other than workers’ compensation, what other legal options are available for employees sustaining major injuries on the job?

In Texas, workplace accidents and injuries may be covered by a workers’ compensation policy, private liability policy, or a civil lawsuit for damages. In most cases, if an employee is covered by a workers’ compensation policy, he or she is limited to the damages provided in the policy terms – and is prohibited from later filing a personal lawsuit for compensation. 

However, there are instances when workers’ compensation is not available or an employee is not eligible for coverage – as is the case in a recent Brazoria County proceeding.
Texas Man Awarded $44 Million After Major Leg Injury on Construction Site

Following a nearly three-week trial, a jury awarded $44 million to a man who sustained such severe injuries on a Houston construction site that he was forced to undergo a leg amputation. Named as defendants were the Kansas-based outfit known as Berkel & Co., along with a Pennsylvania company known as Maxim Crane Works, Inc.

During the proceeding, testimony revealed the alleged gross misconduct of Berkel & Co., including a complete disregard for worker safety and regulations. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was working on the construction of a commercial building when one of the cranes suddenly collapsed, severely injuring his leg. As a result, the plaintiff’s entire left leg had to be removed, and he will be required to rely on the support of a prosthetic limb for the rest of his life. 

During the trial, several witnesses recounted Berkel’s practice of ignoring safety warnings, repeatedly violating safety practices, and “flouting” the warnings by other experienced workers that the crane was overloaded. During the discovery phase of the litigation, electronic data recorders conclusively revealed that, at the time of the incident, the crane was bearing more weight than it was designed to hold – a major factor for the jury’s consideration when determining liability.

The jury assigned 90 percent of the blame to Berkel & Co., and 10 percent of the blame to Maxim Crane Works. In addition, the jury added an extra $8.5 million to the plaintiff’s verdict as punitive damages against Berkel & Co.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, the knowledgeable attorneys at Sawicki Law Firm can help. Mike Sawicki has more than 20 years of experience and is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact us today at (888)468-8844 for a free consultation.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dallas Traffic Lights Are Out Of Date

Who is responsible for accidents caused by faulty traffic lights?

Dallas traffic lights are in terrible disrepair, even before the damage sustained in recent storms. Years of neglect and failure to perform upgrades make it impossible to quickly rectify the problem. The traffic lights are outdated, many were installed before 1980, and lack left turn signals and sensors to detect whether or not cars are waiting at the light. These issues negatively affect traffic creating slower traffic patterns and increasing pedestrian accidents. The lights are also not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and do not meet federal standards for operation, structure and wind-load.

Dallas has a system in place to address the underground communication and system controlling the traffic lights and recently received a grant to improve those measures. Dallas officials estimate it will cost $362 million dollars and take 25 years to fix the outdated traffic lights. If the city chose not to replace any of the lights, every signal in the city would be obsolete by 2040. Officials expect the city will implement the upgrades in stages through a three-step process, beginning with fixing 18 lights the first year and progressing to 60 lights a year by the fourth year. The city used a points system to determine which lights needed to be replace first. 

Malfunctioning traffic signals are just one potential cause of auto or pedestrian accidents. If you were involved in an auto accident because of a malfunctioning traffic signal, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Sawicki Law Firm. Call us today at (888)468-8844 for a free consultation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Dallas Hospitals Cited for Safety

Who is responsible for patient safety?

In 2014, the Dallas Morning News conducted an analysis of almost six million patient records from the two most recent full years of data for Dallas and Fort Worth-area hospitals. The analysis was limited to short-term, acute-care hospitals that provide the patient information annually to the state and are available through request. The data did not contain personal information and summarized diagnoses, types of treatments and patient outcomes.

The analysis used methodology and software to examine this information in relation to medically deemed preventable complications such as bed sores, hemorrhages and infections, known as Patient Safety Indicators (PSI) and calculated the hospital’s performance. The software helps to analyze the general hospital conditions such as differences in the types of conditions, economic differences in patients contributing to overall lower healthcare, and number of cases the hospital addressed, then adjusts the metric risk taking account of those factors.

Hospitals had stark differences in these metrics from privately to publicly run, along with regional and local differences. Public hospitals considered teaching hospitals performed worse than privately-owned hospitals, though this is not the case for every teaching hospital.

North Texas-based hospitals performed worse on average than others in other parts of the state, but Dallas Regional had one of the highest scores for patient safety. The hospital attributed the score to a focus on patient safety and providing quality care through attention to detail and staff training.

Hospitals with poor safety numbers stand to lose federal funding if something is not done to improve numbers. In these cases, the government requires a hospital to have oversight of federal safety monitors. This was the case for Dallas County Parkland Memorial Hospital. After a long Dallas Morning News investigation revealed major safety issues at the hospital, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid intervened providing safety monitors. The hospital has improved enough to no longer need that supervision.

The newspaper shared its findings with the Texas Hospital Association who shared the results with its members. Since the release of the study, hospitals have seen improvements in patient safety metrics but commented that the study does not reflect the most current safety performance.

The experienced personal injury attorneys at Sawicki Law Firm are located in Dallas and serve clients throughout Texas. Call us at (888)468-8844 for a free consultation. We will fight for the compensation you deserve, with no fee until you collect.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lubbock Family Sues Police After Daughter Killed by Speeding Patrolman

What are the options available to grieving family members when a loved one is killed as a result of negligence? 

Under Texas law, a wrongful death action may be filed by surviving family members in the event their loved one is killed by the negligence or intentional misconduct of another person. Specifically, a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent may file a claim either individually or jointly. The claim must be based on the alleged wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default of the defendant.  Moreover, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s death. 

In one recent case, the parents of a 20-year old Texas Tech University student filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Lubbock following a catastrophic auto accident they assert was caused by the negligence of a police officer. The lawsuit stems from the events of August 13, 2014 when the victim was struck by a marked police vehicle traveling in the opposite lane of traffic. While the specific details of the crash have not been publicly released at this point, it is presumed that the officer’s vehicle ventured into the victim’s lane for an unknown reason, causing the fatal collision. 

Unlike a typical negligence lawsuit, damages available in a wrongful death claim are limited to those related to the untimely death of the victim, including:

• Lost earning capacity;
• Loss of the care, maintenance, services, support, advice, and counsel of the deceased had he or she survived;
• Mental and emotional anguish and pain;
• Lost love and companionship; and
• Lost inheritance, which is calculated based on the amount the victim would have likely passed on to heirs had he or she lived a typical life expectancy. 

Procedurally, a wrongful death action may be filed either within three months of the victim’s death by the family or within two years of the incident by the executor of the victim’s estate. 

If you are facing a difficult personal injury or are the surviving loved one of someone killed in an tragic accident, we encourage you to contact Sawicki Law in Dallas, Texas today by calling (888)468-8844. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Texas High Court Ruling on Seat Belts Could Affect Plaintiffs in Car Accident Cases

Is evidence that a plaintiff did not wear a seat belt admissible in a lawsuit for damages following an automobile wreck?

For decades under Texas law, evidence of a plaintiff's failure to buckle up with a seat belt was inadmissible in lawsuits involving automobile accidents. Now the Texas Supreme Court has changed the rules.

In 1974, the court first barred seat belt evidence to protect plaintiffs from contributory negligence charges.  At the time, under Texas law, if a plaintiff were guilty even of slight contributory negligence, he or she might be barred from receiving any damages whatsoever, an outcome the court sought to prevent.  In 1985, the Texas legislature enacted a statute to prohibit the use of seat belt evidence in such cases, though it repealed the law in 2003.

Texas law now allows plaintiffs to recover apportioned damages if there was contributory negligence, so there is no longer a concern about an all-or-nothing outcome for plaintiffs.  Moreover, in contrast to 1974, the law now requires wearing a seatbelt.  And so, the high court determined that its old rule on seatbelt evidence is no longer appropriate.

Under the new approach, evidence showing whether or not a plaintiff used a seatbelt can be admitted to apportion responsibility and damages in civil litigation.

The court's decision means that a $2.3 million jury verdict won by a family after one of its members was killed in a collision with a truck will be reversed.

A Dallas judge who presides over many lawsuits involving automobile crashes does not expect the ruling to have an impact on most cases.  Seatbelts are not an issue in the majority of car wreck cases.  The case is, however, expected to have implications for product liability cases in which a victim is ejected from a vehicle.  By allowing seat belt evidence to be used in cases involving allegations that a vehicle malfunctioned or was defective, the ruling could tilt jurors away from a plaintiff who failed to wear a seatbelt and give an edge to automobile manufacturers and insurance companies.

The shifting treatment of seatbelt evidence is just one of the many challenges involved in recovering damages when you have been harmed in an accident.  The tenacious personal injury attorneys at Sawicki Law in Dallas, Texas, have years of experience overcoming obstacles in all types of accident claims, including wrongful death.

If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one in an automobile accident because of the actions of others, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, with no fee until you collect.  For a free consultation, call us today at (888)468-8844 or use our online Consultation Request Form.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Federal Laws and Medical Malpractice

Can Federal Medical Standards Impact Medical Malpractice Cases?

Normally medical malpractice cases are driven by state law, with state statutes interpreted by state courts laying the groundwork for both liability and defenses by medical personnel. However a federal law just signed by President Obama could make it more difficult for plaintiffs to prove their cases by limiting the types of evidence they can use.
The law reauthorizing Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program has a section that gives health care providers new protections against medical malpractice claims, according to the New York Times. The law requires the federal government to measure the quality of medical care, in part by having doctors rate their own performance. But these measurements would not be allowed in medical malpractice cases. 

The federal government and health insurers are requiring more statistics and information concerning the quality of medical care. Supporters of this new law claim that this is only a new source of information that cannot be used and it will not prevent use of information traditionally used in malpractice cases (expert testimony of the “standard of care,” the general guide for what a health care provider should do in a particular situation and patient). 

The language used in the law was suggested by physicians and their insurance companies, who claim the federal guidelines are different than the “standard of care” so should not be used in medical malpractice cases.

Many of those aligned with patients’ rights disagree with the approach. 

• Tom Baker, a University of Pennsylvania professor said the provision “does not make any sense” because the information in question, “indicate(s) what a reasonable doctor does and should do, just like guidelines adopted by a medical specialty society.”

• Consumer group the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, claims the law would make it harder for nursing home residents to establish negligence by showing violations of federal health and safety standards.

• James L. Wilkes II, plaintiffs’ lawyer from Florida, told the Times he has often used inspection reports with violations of federal standards in cases against nursing homes and their medical directors. He said these violations should be used to show defendants failed to meet their “duty of care.”

Medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove and this new law will not make it any easier, but if you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a health care provider, do not let this stop you from learning about your rights by calling the Sawicki Law Firm today at (888) 468-8844 for a free consultation. There is no fee unless you collect. Based in Dallas, the Sawicki Law Firm helps victims of medical malpractice throughout Texas.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Personal Injury Cases vs. Workers’ Compensation Cases

What makes workplace accidents different than other accidents?

While logistically, an injury resulting in a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit may be the same, the law views these two types of cases very differently.  Separate specialized courts handle workers’ compensation claims. These courts operate under different procedural and substantive rules than those of traditional courts. 

In order to receive compensation for an accident that occurred outside of work, a person must be able to show that someone else was at fault for the injuries he or she sustained.  In a workplace accident, even if the result is due the negligence of the person injured, he or she is still entitled to an award.  The courts usually ignore fault altogether in their determination of how much money to which the injured party is entitled.  While personal injury claims are sometimes limited in traditional courts, workers’ compensation claims are highly restricted by the specialized courts. While the type of injury a person sustained may be ground for a high personal injury award, a workers’ compensation court will usually give a smaller award for the same injury.  

Most of the time, the plaintiff in a personal injury case can sue whoever may be at fault.  But, in a workers’ compensation case, the claimant may not be allowed to sue the employer or his or her co-workers outside of the specialized court, unless the party falls into a statutory exception. There are also generally no awards for pain and suffering in workers’ compensation cases, as there often are in personal injury cases.  

The above are just a few examples of the wide variety of differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation cases.  If you were injured on or off the job, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding whether you should file your case as a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ compensation claim.  The attorneys and staff at Sawicki Law are experienced in handling both personal injury lawsuits and worker’s compensation claims.  If you have suffered an injury in any context, you should contact us today at (888) 468-8844.

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