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September 29, 2020

TERMS IN A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT

The law is made up of words that define and describe rules, actions, and punishments. In a medical malpractice case, there are certain words and phrases that have specific meanings relating to personal injury law. These terms help judges and juries determine if legally sound medical care was provided to the plaintiff (the person who claims injury in a medical malpractice complaint) by the defendant (the medical provider who is being sued).

If you are or a loved one is filing a medical malpractice complaint, or if you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, familiarize yourself with these terms. If you understand these five terms, you will be better able to help your personal injury attorney gather the evidence necessary to manage your case.

Medical Provider 

The medical provider in your case may be a surgeon, physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, nurse, or licensed therapist. If the person provided medical services in a medical facility—including the performance of tasks like lab sample collection, breathing treatments, and assistance to use the washroom—that person is considered a medical provider.

Facilities are also considered medical providers. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are medical providers. Private agencies that deliver home health care are also classified as medical providers.

Arbitration Agreement or Release

Some physicians and other medical providers ask patients to sign arbitration agreements before the patients have surgery or other medical procedures performed. An arbitration agreement stipulates that, if you feel you have been injured by a medical provider, you must go through the provider’s chosen arbitration process rather than suing the medical provider in court.

There are other releases that health care providers may ask patients to sign, which are similarly intended to protect the medical provider in case you get hurt. Do not despair if you signed one of these agreements and now feel like you have a valid malpractice claim. In some cases, depending on the court’s decision, agreements and releases can be invalid.

For example, the North Carolina Supreme Court recently determined that an injured man did not have to go into private arbitration to resolve his personal injury case against a Fayetteville physician. The court ruled that the arbitration agreement was poorly worded and poorly explained to the patient, so he was free to seek damages from the medical provider in court.

Standard of Care

A standard is an approved model of conduct. In medical malpractice cases, the standard of care is defined as the kind of care any skilled and reasonably competent medical professional provides in like medical situations.

An example of a standard of care is the practice of hand washing between patients to avoid spreading germs and infections. If your medical provider did not wash his or her hands before treating or examining you and then you became severely ill, he or she may have breached the standard of care.

However, standards of care vary from facility to facility and from situation to situation. A surgeon in an operating room will be held to a higher standard of care than a paramedic providing medical care at the scene of an accident. A nurse in a well-appointed doctor’s office will be held to a higher standard of care than a nurse working at a summer camp with limited medical supplies.

Expert Review

For the court to agree to hear a medical malpractice case, there must be an expert review of your case. Essentially, a qualified person must agree that the standard of care was breached in your case. The qualified expert must agree that you or a loved one suffered damages because of that breach of the standard of care.

When you hire a personal injury attorney, he or she will assist you in obtaining an expert review if you do not already have one. Both you and your expert may argue that the medical provider did not use his or her best judgment, reasonable care, or due diligence in your case, even if the standard of care is otherwise acceptable.

Discovery

Once the court has agreed to hear your case, your attorney and the medical provider’s attorney will begin to collect all of the evidence they need to present their arguments. This process is called “discovery.” Evidence usually stems from a variety of perspectives, including medical records, test results, and other documentation, to show what happened to you.

After the discovery period and during court, both sides will call expert witnesses to explain complex medical issues to the court. Prior illnesses and accidents you have suffered may be brought up in court. The defendant’s lawyers may allege that you engaged in behaviors that may have contributed to your injury. In some cases, prior malpractice convictions may be brought to trial as evidence against a medical provider.

In addition to the terms above, the most important word medical malpractice victims hear is “damages.” This word tells you that you will get compensation for your suffering. The court will award punitive damages as a way to punish the medical provider for his or her negligence or lack of care. Additionally, the court will award compensatory damages to pay you back for the money you have paid for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to your injury.

Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP is your best advocate for your medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact our law office at 252-378-2525 to schedule your free consultation.

September 24, 2020

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SLIP AND FALL INJURIES

When you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, the accident could negatively affect your life. It could be difficult to care for you family or event to get through your morning routine. It is possible, that in some cases. you may not be able to work for make a living for a time.

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may wonder if you could be entitled to compensation for the injury. For more information about who is liable in the event of a slip and fall accident, take a look at the information provided below.

What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?

The term “slip and fall” applies to just about all incidents where something under your feet causes an injury. The accident could have been cause by uneven pavement, cracks in pavement or flooring, wet flooring, or other similar conditions. Also, the injury does not have to be slipping or falling, but it can also be an injury resulting from twisting, overextending, or stumbling.

You must have sustained your injury on someone else’s property and your injury must be a direct result of another’s negligence in order to file a slip and fall accident.

When Would Another Party Be Responsible for My Accident?

Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, but when is it someone else’s fault? The general rule is that your injury has to be a result of someone else’s neglect, as mentioned above. An example would be if there is slippery flooring and the responsible party knew about it and they did not handle, clean, or put up warning signs.

Another example would be if exterior pathways at someone’s home were uneven, known to be a problem or caused an injury in the past and they left unfixed. If you tripped on this area and sustained an injury, the property owner could be responsible because they did not make repairs needed to fix a known issue.

Property owners have a responsibility to properly maintain their premises at all times. So, as long as the responsible party knew of the problem and did not fix it, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim.

How Do My Own Actions Come into Play?

A slip and fall accident can simply be just that, an accident. There may not have been negligence involved, it simply may have been caused by your own clumsiness or inattention.

If you fell because you were looking at your phone or reading a book, your injury would be caused by your own inattentiveness, not due to the fault of another party. If you were trespassing, goofing around, or dragging your feet, the accident may be caused by your own actions and behaviors.

So, if the hazardous area is properly marked or easily identifiable, you should be able to avoid it. If you were unable to do so because of your own carelessness or personal distractions, you may not have an injury claim.

Does It Matter Where Your Accident Occurred?

For every type of property, the owner or related parties need to properly maintain the premises. But there are expectations and maintenance requirements between residential, commercial, and government properties.

Residential

Residential property owners have a responsibility to provide a safe environment. Whether you are renting an apartment or home, or if you are visiting someone, the area should be maintained well enough to avoid injury.

The property owner can be held liable if:

  • The repair could have been fixed easily without spending an unreasonable amount of money.
  • The owner previously know that the issue could cause an injury.
  • The owner did not make proper repairs or provide adequate warning.

Basically, if the owner had enough control over the issue and neglected to take the proper steps to fix it, they can be held responsible.

Commercial

With commercial property, the owner or employees have a responsibility to keep a safe. clean establishment. If they somehow caused the issue, such as bunched up carpeting, a loose rug, or a puddle, they could be held liable for your injury.

They can also be liable if they do not fix a problem that they knew needed repair. If a reasonable person would have fixed the issue and they did not, they could be held accountable.

Government

Being injured on government property can definitely complicate your case. You will have to follow special rules. Plus, slip and fall cases against government parties require proper notice and must follow strict timeframes. Even if you are unsure if your injury was the government entity’s fault, you should file a notice of claim as quickly as possible you do not miss any deadlines.

Once you file a notice of claim, the proper parties will be notified, and they will contact you about your injury and experience before you file an actual claim.

Being seriously injured can be a hardship on you and your family, but no matter how or where you have sustained a slip and fall injury, you should have legal representation on your side. For a dependable personal injury attorney in Greenville, NC, call Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP. We can discuss the specifics of your case with you, help you decide how to proceed, and can help you get the compensation you may be entitled to. Call us today at 252-378-2525 for your free consultation.

 

September 21, 2020

DO NOT SAY THESE THINGS AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT

You did not cause the accident; therefore, you should not have to pay for the consequences of it. But remember this, how you respond to police officers and insurance personnel, could play a part in your chances of being compensated appropriately for any damages you may have suffered. You must be careful of what you say after an accident because your words could become evidence that is used against you by the defense in court.

To prevent this, make sure you do not say the following phrases, or anything like them, when you are talking to the law enforcement or the insurance company after an accident.

1. It Was My Fault

Even if you think there is a chance that you caused the accident, or if you think something you did could have contributed to the accident, you must not that to anyone right after the accident. Since you do not know all the factors causing the accident, making a premature admission of fault could lead you to more responsibility than you may deserve. You should talk to a lawyer before you discuss fault with someone else.

2. I’m Sorry

Apologizing for the accident could be looked at as admission of fault. The driver, police officers, and potential witnesses may hear you apologize and assume you caused the crash even when you did not. Even if you feel bad that the other driver is suffering from injuries or just damages to their car, you do not want to apologize or say you are sorry for anything that has happened right after the accident.

3. I’m Not Hurt or Injured

During an accident, and immediately after, your body goes into shock. What this means is that you may not notice, or feel, your injuries right away. It could be hours, days, or even weeks after the accident happens before you feel or notice them.

Because of this timeframe, you should not say that you are not hurt or injured at the scene of the accident. Injuries you may notice after you have made that admission could be hard for you to prove as injuries as a result of the of the car crash.

4. These Are My Injuries

Even if you see your injuries, you should not self-diagnose yourself – no matter who you talk to. If anyone asks, you should tell them that you do not know what your injuries are. You can tell someone if you have an injury, you can describe any symptoms you have, but do not say what you think is wrong with you.

If you say that you have a specific injury and later do not receive treatment for them, and your doctor’s diagnosis conflicts with statements you could complicate your lawsuit.

5. I Talked to My Family and/or Friends

Do not tell anyone who you spoke with after an accident, because then the authorities and insurance company can go to these people to verify your story. Your lawyer needs to be the first person to interview you, and any of your friends or family members that may need to be interviewed. If the authorities talk to your friends or loved ones right away, they could misunderstand what you told them and tell the police something unhelpful or even not accurate.

6. I Think This Happened

Only state the facts after an accident. State what you saw, heard, and felt. Do not guess about anything as those guesses could be used against you at later date. If you do not know definitively what happened, then that is what you tell anyone that should ask – I do not know. The police’s assessment of the accident should be what is used to fill in the gaps.

7. This Is My Official Statement

Never submit an official statement without first talking to your lawyer. In fact, your lawyer should help you draft and submit any official statement you may have to the authorities and insurance companies.

8. I Accept This Settlement

DO NOT accept any settlements or offers without speaking with an attorney. You will not know how much compensation you may be entitled to until after you have met with your lawyer. Do not even discuss settlements or offers before speaking with a personal injury attorney.

Avoid phases like the ones noted after a car accident. Also remember not to post anything about your accident onto your social media pages. For more advice on how to handle your personal injury case, contact Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP. We are available for free consultations and can help through the process of your claim.

September 17, 2020

WHAT ROLE DOES A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER PLAY?

An injury caused by an accident can be financially devastating. You could have medical bills, loss of income, and daily hardships can be difficult on your family. If your injury is serious enough, it could affect you for years to come and prevent you from doing the things you love.

If you have been injured to do the fault or negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering and financial losses. You will need to hire a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the insurance and legal system.

This blog will help you understand what role a personal injury attorney will play in your injury case and why you should hire an injury lawyer to represent you.

Deciding Damages

When you first meet with your personal injury attorney to discuss your case, the attorney can help you determine what damages apply to your case and how much compensation you may be entitled to. Some things your lawyer will consider are:

  • Pain and suffering, along with emotional distress
  • Permanent injury
  • Loss of income
  • Medical expenses, current and future

When you handle your claim by yourself, it may be difficult to determine how much you could deserve for pain, suffering and/or emotional distress. This is where your personal injury attorney can put their experience to work for you and more accurately determine compensation for damages that include future or ongoing medical expenses, loss of income, etc.

Useful Advice

Personal injury attorneys can also provide you with advice on your claim. Attorneys understand the most efficient way to get you the compensation you may be entitled and avoid common mistakes, that people going it alone may make, that could prevent you from getting proper compensation.

As an example, if your injuries seem minor, the defendant’s insurance company may offer you a lowball settlement, where as your personal injury attorney will ask that you wait until you know if you are more seriously injured. There are some medical issues that can take time to develop and accepting a quick settlement may not be in your best interest.

Filing a Lawsuit and Drafting Legal Documentation

By hiring an injury attorney, you will not have to worry about any of the confusing legal paperwork. If needed, they will file the lawsuit on your behalf and draft any legal documents.

Plus, they will look over any legal documents you receive and spot potential pitfalls or problems which can protect you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company or the defense.

Handling the Insurance Company

Aside from handling all your paperwork, an attorney will handle all the interaction with the defendant’s insurance company and/or attorney. You won’t have to worry about being pressured to settle your claim before you are ready – and, if you are contacted, you can tell them to no longer contact you, but instead contact your lawyer.

Settling on Compensation

As noted above, injury attorneys know how to get injured victims the compensation they are entitled to. With their experience and knowledge of the legal system, they can get you an appropriate settlement without any intimidation tricks.

Your personal injury lawyer may not ask the insurance company for a settlement immediately as it can make you appear desperate resulting in an offer that is much number. Instead, your lawyer may wait until the defendant’s insurance company asks them for a settlement amount and then they may go back and forth until an amount is agreed upon. Your attorney speaks to the other party handling the negotiations during this time. And, if the two parties cannot come to a settlement, mediation may be needed to reach an agreement.

Pre litigation mediation is an alternative dispute method. The mediator is an impartial attorney or retired Judge that is not related to the case. The two parties and the mediator normally meet, then the two parties are put in separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth until the two parties can hopefully agree on a number.

You will need to be present, but your attorney will handle the negotiations. However, once a settlement is accepted, that is the end. You cannot change your mind or seek more compensation, so you must trust your attorney’s advice to keep from making a quick decision.

At the law firm of Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, we handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we cannot settle any case WITHOUT the consent of our client. Therefore, our clients are ultimately in control of the settlement of their case.

Representation in Court

If nothing is successful, your attorney will meet with you to explain your options and the litigation process of going to court. This included time frames, costs and risks associated. Your attorney will argue your case in court using evidence and witnesses.

No matter where your case goes, whether you settle quickly or go to court, it is your personal injury attorney’s job is to get you the compensation you may be entitled to for your struggles. Their number one goal is to make sure the person responsible for your injury is held accountable and to protect you from large insurance companies or attorneys.

If you have been seriously injured due to the negligence of another, trust the experienced personal injury attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett to handle your case.