When it comes to personal injury lawsuit verdicts, courts have consistently held that plaintiffs should not expect to obtain double recovery. For example, if a health insurance company pays for a portion of the damages, it is the insurer – rather than the insured – who would be entitled to reclaim those funds. However, the collateral source rule provides that compensation an injured person receives from a source other than the tortfeasor is not going to reduce the amount of damages the tortfeasor has to pay. pregnant woman

The idea is that independent source payments aren’t going to allow a defendant to be “off the hook” for those damages.

In the recent case of Simms v. U.S., the plaintiff in this wrongful birth/medical malpractice lawsuit sought damages from a federally supported prenatal care provider for failing to inform her in a timely manner about the fact that her child would be born with severe congenital abnormalities. The defendant knew based on an ultrasound conducted at 18 weeks that the fetus was abnormal, but this information was not relayed to the plaintiff for a full three months. By that time, it was too late under state law to undergo an abortion because she was well into her third trimester.

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Although Florida is more known for its booming cruise travel industry, South Carolina has its own, primarily in Charleston.Cruise Ship Docked

For those who are injured on a cruise ship, there are a few things you must understand. The first is that, even though these ships dock at a South Carolina port, they are not South Carolina businesses. Most are based in the Bahamas. Also, most injuries associated with cruise lines happen at sea. That matters because state courts usually don’t have personal or subject matter jurisdiction in these cases, which means any injury lawsuits typically have to be filed in federal court. In fact, most cruise lines will stipulate that any injury claims have to be filed in a federal district court.

Another element to consider is that while most personal injury lawsuits in South Carolina are bound by a three-year statute of limitations, most cruise injury lawsuits have to be filed within one year. That’s not even maritime law but the agreement to which passengers agree when they purchase a ticket and board the ship. This stipulation is included in the fine print of the ticket, and courts have upheld it as valid. This means that cruise ship injury plaintiffs have to act quickly.

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The state supreme court in Washington has imposed more stringent time limits on certain wrongful death lawsuits. In a 5-4 ruling in the case of Deggs v. Asbestos Corp., the justices ruled a wrongful death lawsuit cannot move forward if the statute of limitations has already run on the decedent’s own cause of action by the time of his or her death. Asbestos Dust Hazard

The majority in this instance rejected the plaintiff’s assertion that the heirs’ cause of action for wrongful death can’t arise until after the decedent dies.

According to court records, the decedent filed a lawsuit in 1999 against nearly 40 defendants for negligence regarding injuries arising from exposure to asbestos. He settled with a number of those defendants, and some others were dismissed. He ultimately went to trial with the last defendant remaining and secured a judgment in excess of $1.5 million. He died nine years later at the age of 84.

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Motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death among children in the U.S. More than 600 children under the age of 12 died, and more than 121,000 were injured in 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Especially concerning is the fact that CDC research showed that in a single year, nearly 620,000 kids from infant to age 12 rode in vehicles without the use of either a child safety seat, a booster seat, or a seat belt “at least some of the time.” A third of the children who died in motor vehicle crashes weren’t buckled up at all.seat belt

Children are among the most vulnerable people on the road, and it’s imperative that parents, loved ones, and caregivers take car seat/restraint recommendations and guidelines seriously. That means:

  • Children need to be in the right size and type of car seat for their age and size;
  • The car seat needs to be installed correctly; and
  • The car seat needs to be registered so that parents and caregivers can be notified of possible recalls.

Now, a recent analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that booster seat use among children between the ages of four and seven (the intended age group for this particular kind of restraint) is down.

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Manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson is facing allegations of product liability for its alleged concealment of the risk of developing ovarian cancer by using products containing toxic talcum powder. The case, Hogans, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, is one of thousands of such claims pending against the company and the third in this multi-district litigation action to go to trial. powder

The two previous talc injury cases that went to trial resulted in verdicts of $72 million and $55 million, respectively. It’s estimated there are 1,200 lawsuits pending in Missouri and New Jersey, and the outcome of this third case could dictate whether the company moves to settle those pending cases (and for how much) or whether it continues to fight them.

The plaintiff in this action has been diagnosed with Stage Four ovarian cancer. She has reportedly used Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder products on her genitals for most of her adult life. She alleges the company was aware that talc applied in this region could travel to the ovaries and pose a risk of deadly cancer, and yet it chose to conceal this information from the public.

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An appeals court has affirmed in part and reversed in part an $8 million damages award in favor of a California couple who sued a doctor and a hospital for medical malpractice after the husband, undergoing pain management treatment, was rendered quadriplegic. Hospital Room

Jurors had awarded nearly $7 million to the patient and another $1 million to his wife (who sued for loss of consortium). The personal injury lawsuit, Markow v. Rosner, was recently considered by the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, Division One.

The plaintiffs filed claims against two defendants:  the doctor who provided care and the hospital where the care was received. While hospitals certainly can be negligent in their own right for medical malpractice resulting in a patient’s injury, the assertion here was that the hospital was vicariously liable for the actions of the doctor. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of employees acting in the course and scope of employment. However, the doctor in this case wasn’t an employee; he was an independent contractor. The question was whether the plaintiff’s belief to the contrary was reasonable (i.e., did the doctor or hospital make it clear that the doctor was not an agent or employee of the hospital?).

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Inadequate inspection policies at a Dollar General Store resulted in serious injuries in a slip-and-fall accident in Alabama. That’s according to the findings of jurors in Alabama, who awarded the plaintiff $1.75 million in damages.spill

According to AL.com, the incident in question occurred four years ago at the retail chain store, where a customer, then 60, slipped on a clear liquid on the tile floor in the chemical aisle. That liquid was later determined to be laundry detergent. As a result of the fall, she sustained severe fractures to her leg and shoulders that necessitated eight surgeries. Additionally, she required nearly 400 doctor visits and incurred some $470,000 in medical bills.

The plaintiff was rendered permanently disabled as a result of the fall, according to her lawsuit.

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Three teenage sisters were in the car with their parents and 90-year-old grandmother on their way to a family reunion. Their oldest sister, in her 20s, had to work and couldn’t join them. In their Kia Sedona minivan, the family traveled along U.S. 67 in Texas. That’s when a man in a Pontiac Bonneville crossed the center line.

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Instantly, both parents and the grandmother were killed. The girls suffered serious physical injuries, although they did eventually recover. But the emotional scars will likely never heal, they say. Then came the questions. Specifically:  why didn’t the airbags in the van deploy? Numerous lawsuits have been filed due to faulty airbags, but that is not what is being alleged here.

The decedents had purchased the vehicle just a few weeks earlier, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. As they would later learn, that very same vehicle had problems with the airbag. The plaintiffs now believe that the dealership that sold the vehicle may have failed to put in the fuse or reconnect the airbag sensors while troubleshooting a problem with the previous owner’s complaint. That previous owner had made numerous complaints about the airbag light over the three-year period in which she owned the car. Even in spite of these chronic airbag warning light problems, the dealership accepted the vehicle as a trade, later selling it to the decedents.

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A woman was seriously injured while descending a set of stairs that lacked a railway after singing in her church choir. When she sued the church for damages, it was undisputed that she fell on the defendant’s stairs and suffered injuries as a result. The question recently before the North Carolina Court of Appeals was whether the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff and breached that duty, foreseeably resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries. church

According to court records in Thompson v. Evergreen Baptist Church, a key issue in this case was the plaintiff’s own knowledge of the potential danger.

The plaintiff was a member of the church for 34 years. Her husband had been a member of the congregation his entire life, and their children and grandchildren were baptized there. At various times, the plaintiff helped with the children’s choir and served as a youth director, a Sunday School teacher, and the Director of Missions. At the time of her fall, she was serving as a youth director. Additionally, she was a regular church attendee, noting she was there any time the church doors were open and she was able to attend.

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Juror misconduct is getting tougher to police in this age of advanced technology. Sequestration of jurors is not a logistical possibility in the vast majority of cases. That means our system relies on trust that jurors will only consider the facts presented to them in the case – facts that have been carefully vetted by a court of law in order to ensure fairness to both sides. But some jurors find it just too tempting when there may be unanswered questions and they have instant access to almost any bit of information that was ever publicly available about the case. soap

Experienced injury attorneys know that while not every instance of juror misconduct warrants a mistrial, we must be vigilant in identifying it and calling it out and, when necessary, asking for remedy to unfairness. In some cases, that does mean a new trial.

However, as the Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled in Smotherman v. Cass Regional Medical Center, every party is entitled to a trial that is fair, but not necessarily one that is perfect. This was a slip-and-fall lawsuit that was decided in favor of the defendant property owner. Plaintiff sought a new trial after it came to light that a juror was looking up weather report information on the day of the accident. Her case, the court conceded, was not perfect and the juror did commit misconduct. However, the supreme court sided with the trial court in determining a new trial wasn’t warranted because plaintiff did not suffer prejudice as a result of the juror’s misconduct.  Continue reading

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