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March 29, 2021

LEGAL OPTIONS IF YOU’RE HIT BY A DRUNK DRIVER

The facts about drunk driving are alarming. According to statistics compiled by MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, between 50 and 75 percent of drivers convicted of DUIs continue to drive even after their licenses are suspended. Around 27 Americans die every day in DUI-related accidents, and every 2 minutes, yet another driver is injured by someone who drives drunk.

If you’ve become one of the tens of thousands of Americans injured by drunk drivers, you deserve to get financial compensation for your injuries and medical bills. Here are the ways you can proceed after a DUI accident to ensure you receive compensation for the damages you may be entitled to.

Civil and Criminal Litigation

Unlike many other personal injury suits, drunk driving cases can result in both civil and criminal suits. A civil suit ensures that you, the victim, receive the financial compensation you may deserve after a negligent driver injures you. In contrast, a criminal suit-which the state brings against the drunk driver-ensures that the general public is not endangered by the same drunk driver in the future.

Civil Suits

It’s always shocking to be hit by a driver out of the blue but being hit by a drunk driver can have particularly devastating, tragic consequences. Drunk drivers are mentally or physically impaired, so unlike other drivers who might make a mistake and try to correct it before they hit you, drunk drivers do not notice or have the ability to correct an error before a crash.

Fortunately, establishing a drunk driver’s liability in an accident is relatively simple if the drunk driver was arrested or cited at the time of the accident.

If the court finds the driver liable, you could receive general damages, which could compensate you for mental and physical suffering; special damages, which could compensate you for financial losses; and punitive or exemplary damages, which are meant to discipline the defendant for breaking the law. The court could also award you punitive damages to deter the defendant from committing future crimes.

Regardless of whether or not the state brings a criminal suit, you will have to file a civil lawsuit to pay your medical bills, recover lost wages, and receive enough money to deal with any future surgeries or physical therapy. Even punitive damages can only be awarded in a civil lawsuit, not a criminal one.

In some states, you can also bring a civil suit against someone who allowed the driver to drive drunk. For instance, under a dram shop law, you can file against the bar, pub, or restaurant that let the driver leave while intoxicated. If your state has a social host law, you can file against an individual or host who continued to serve alcohol to someone who was clearly drunk, especially to a minor.

Criminal Suits

Since drunk drivers are breaking the law, not merely being negligent drivers who are subject to human error, they are often prosecuted by the district attorney. As the victim, you may need to testify for the prosecution during the criminal case. Again, remember that you can only receive compensation through a civil suit.

Insurance Settlements

As with any personal injury claim, the other driver’s insurance company will get in touch with you and try to work out a settlement. If you were not seriously injured in the crash-for instance, if you talked to a medical professional and established that you only suffer from mild injuries-you may consider accepting a settlement.

Bear in mind that any insurance company’s goal is to save as much money as possible, so they will likely lowball you at first. Which is why, you should not sign anything with the insurance company until you’ve talked to a lawyer. If you have settled with the company, you won’t be able to pursue civil litigation in the future.

It is also crucial to confer with a medical professional before accepting a settlement. Even if you think you only have minor neck and back pain, you could have underlying injuries that will take a while to manifest. Visit the doctor to make sure that your injuries really are as mild as you think they are.

You might also want to pursue civil litigation instead of accepting a settlement to ensure the driver is punished for breaking the law. Some proponents of punitive damages argue that they encourage victims like you to do your part to hold the drunk driver accountable.

Since many drunk drivers are repeat offenders, you should seriously consider bringing a suit against him or her to deter the driver from committing the same crime.

Contact a Lawyer

Whether you are pursuing a settlement or filing a civil lawsuit, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. In a drunk driving suit, you may deserve compensation-the other driver was clearly at fault and clearly broke the law. Your injuries are not your fault, and you should not have to pay for recovery out of your own pocket.

With over 58 years combined legal experience, the attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett have aggressively prosecuted many drunk driving cases. We have worked with the district attorney’s office to ensure justice for the families we’ve represented and to get drunk drivers off the road for the safety of others. Turn to the legal team at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett for a free consultation.

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2021

ANIMAL ATTACK OR ACCIDENT, DO YOU HAVE A LAWSUIT?

You know how to behave around both domesticated and wild animals. Domesticated animals usually feel more than happy to sit in close proximity to humans.  Wild animals require a lot of space and minimal interaction.

However, you recently crossed paths with a dog or cat, and that animal decided to attack you. You have had to miss time at work and pay for medical attention during your recovery, and you have lost significant funds as a result.

You shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of another creature’s actions-but you cannot sue a dog or cat like you would sue another person who had wronged you. So, what can you do to ensure you receive the restitution you deserve?

Simply follow the steps outlined below.

Determine if You Can Sue for Owner Liability

First of all, you cannot sue for compensation if the animal does not belong to anyone. At that point, the animal is classified as feral, and the same principles apply as if you had come across a wild animal. You can only sue if the animal is someone’s pet, and then you can sue the owner for damages their dog or cat caused.

However, you do not have a legitimate animal attack case if your situation does not meet the following criteria:

Your injuries must have come from the animal that attacked you or have happened during your escape from the animal. You will have to provide proof, so make sure your doctor documents all the relevant details.

You did not provoke the animal to attack you in any way. You did not invade its space, tease it or otherwise incite it against you. You simply passed by and minded your own business.

You had a right to be where you were. For example, you were not on private property when you shouldn’t have been, or you did not break into a person’s house to steal their belongings. Instead, you walked in a public area, visited a friend’s house, lounged on your own property, or otherwise stayed in areas you had a right to be.

The person you want to sue must own the animal that attacked you. If he or she merely handled the animal at the time, your case becomes more complicated. Consult your lawyer for more details.

Some other considerations may make your case more complicated, but they do not necessarily deny you compensation. For example, if the pet owner takes steps to limit the animal’s movements and warn passersby of its presence, the courts may side with the owner. However, if the limits on the animal do not restrict it from moving into public spaces, then you still have a case.

Additionally, if the owner in question knows that his or her pet has a history of violence and still does not control the animal, you may have the right to increased compensation. Talk to your lawyer to learn more about your options. He or she can assess the evidence and past lawsuits to help you take the next step.

Collect Proof and Build a Case

You should hire an experienced animal attack attorney at this point, if you haven’t done so already. You can certainly represent yourself in court, but you will achieve a much better outcome if you work with a legal expert and it will be less stressful too. Lawyers have worked with the complexities of animal attack laws before, and they have also built cases. Rely on their experience so you can get through this process quickly and easily.

Because lawyers have previously worked on animal attack cases, they’ll direct you on what evidence to get from your doctor. They may also ask you to take pictures of the injury and of the site where you got it. Your lawyer may also take these photos himself or herself. You may also need statements from any witnesses and first responders, if applicable.

Once you have all this information, your legal advisor will help you make your case.

Find Out How Much Compensation You Can Sue For

When you receive restitution for an animal attack, the pet’s owner pays for more than just your injury. Your compensation could also cover:

  • Any hospital or specialist visits in addition to the original emergency room visit
  • Medications
  • Therapy, both physical and emotional
  • Pain and suffering, both physical and psychological
  • Lost wages from lost work
  • Damage done to any property, such as clothing

With most of the points on this list, you have a concrete amount of financial compensation that you can ask for. However, with more general terms like pain and suffering, you will have to ask your lawyer. He or she will help you research a just amount.

When someone else’s pet attacks you, you deserve financial recompense for what happened. Contact the dog bite attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett. We will use the steps noted above in this blog to start the process for you.

March 22, 2021

SAFEGUARDING LOVED ONES FROM NURSING HOME ABUSE

As your loved one ages or as his or her health worsens, you may consider placing this family member in a nursing home. After all, you may not have the training, time, or ability to provide your loved one with the extensive care he or she needs. But you worry about how your loved one will be treated once admitted to a care facility.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), 1 in 10 elders experience some form of abuse or neglect while in the care of a nursing home. The NCEA also states that only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to the authorities.

Despite these alarming statistics, you can take steps to protect your loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect. Read on to learn how you can improve your family member’s safety and what you should do in the event of abuse or neglect.

Ask About the Facility and Staff

Before your loved one enters a nursing home or long-term care facility, take a tour of the property. Note the condition of the building, the quality of the rooms, and the types of amenities the facility offers. As you take a tour of the facility, observe the staff members and how they interact with the residents.

If possible, talk to the facility director. Ask him or her about the process of hiring staff. For example, you could ask if the hiring committee conducted background checks and drug tests on each employee before offering a position. You can even ask if the facility has had any previous incidents of elder abuse or neglect.

As you ask questions, you can better decide which facility best fits your loved ones needs-and which facility staffs responsible, trustworthy aides.

Remember to tour a few different facilities so you have a clear understanding of the care options available to your loved one.

Know the Types of Abuse

When you hear the word “abuse,” you likely think of physical abuse. While nursing home residents can endure physical abuse from staff members and other residents, there are other forms of abuse that occur. Elder abuse can include emotional, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect.

The most common neglect- and abuse-related issues include:

  • Assaults
  • Improper transfers
  • Unnecessary sedation
  • Malnutrition
  • Medication errors
  • Medication overdoses
  • Wandering from the facility
  • Yelling or insults

Unfortunately, some forms of abuse can lead to death. When you visit your loved one, watch out for any of the signs listed above. If you do notice that your loved one has suffered from an item on this list, contact an attorney immediately. You will also want to move your loved one to another care facility or to your home (if possible) to prevent additional abuse or neglect.

Note Any Warning Signs

To clearly determine if your loved one has suffered abuse from a nursing home employee or another resident, keep an eye out for the following warning signs:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Cracked lips or dry mouth, which indicate dehydration
  • Difficulty moving
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Embarrassment
  • Fear
  • Foul body odor
  • Immobility
  • Incontinence
  • Lack of interest
  • Missing money
  • Muscle weakness
  • Open wounds and bed sores
  • Poor hygiene and grooming
  • Rashes, including diaper rash
  • Sleeping more often than normal
  • Swollen tongue
  • Unexplained injuries, including dislocated or broken bones, scratches, burns, and bruises
  • Unexplained illness
  • Weight loss

If you notice any of these warning signs and suspect abuse, contact the proper authorities. Start by getting in touch with North Carolina’s Long Tern Care Ombudsman, Social Services Department, or Adult Protective Services, and contact a legal professional.

Understand Your Loved One’s Legal Rights

Regardless of your loved one’s physical or mental state, he or she has legal rights. State and federal laws provide specific protections and rights for nursing home residents. The Nursing Home Reform law and the Older Americans Act protect nursing home residents on the federal level. State laws differ, but most typically outline:

  • The duties of facility staff.
  • The ethical code by which facility staff should care for residents.
  • The obligation nursing home staff members have to report abuse and neglect.
  • The residents’ specific rights.
  • The rights a loved one has to act on behalf of the nursing home resident.

Even if your loved one cannot advocate for himself or herself in the event of abuse, you still have to right to act in your loved one’s behalf. Familiarize yourself with the rights your loved one has as a nursing home resident. One of the attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett would be happy to explain those rights to you.

Take the steps listed above to protect your loved one from nursing home abuse, injury, and neglect. Should your loved one sustain injury or wrongfully pass away while in the care of a nursing home facility, contact our law firm immediately. Our experienced and trusted attorneys can help you file a claim against the offending party and ensure you and your loved one receive compensation.

March 18, 2021

SUSTAINING A BRAIN INJURY

Unlike typical injuries like a broken leg, traumatic brain injuries can have a larger and more lasting effect on a person’s life. If you live in North Carolina and you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact Hardee, Massey & Blodgett. Our experiences attorney are available to help you with your case you you can receive the compensation you may deserve for your pain and suffering.

More About Traumatic Brain Injuries

If you injured your head in a minor accident, you might have minor cuts and bruises to worry about. However, more serious head injuries can result from an accident. Specifically, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have the most devastating effects.

When a person suffers from this injury type, he or she may experience dramatic alterations to the following:

  • His or her behavior
  • His or her cognition
  • His or her emotions

Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, a victim of a TBI may demonstrate symptoms such as:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in mood
  • Chronic or Constant Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Headaches
  • Impulsivity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Vision loss or impairment

The victim may even slip into a coma while the body tries to heal itself. Often, this injury can lead to permanent damage that greatly impacts the individual’s ability to work and function normally. Rarely, TBIs can cause death.

How can a Traumatic Brain Injury Attorney Help?

If you suffered a TBI in an accident or due to another circumstance outside of your control, you have legal rights. As you rely on our team of experienced attorneys to fight for your rights, you can expect us to use every resource available to build a solid case.

Seek Restitution With Our Trusted and Proven Guidance

If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury, you are entitled to just compensation for your suffering. Call Hardee, Massey & Blodgett at 252-378-2525 for a free initial consultation. We’ll do everything in our power to ensure a successful outcome for your case. Don’t wait. Get in touch today.