Archive for June, 2016

Mississippi Car Accident Attorneys Explain What Happens When Police Investigate A Car Crash

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Police called to the scene of a car crash are immediately swamped with numerous decisions to make. Accident scenes are emotionally charged and can be chaotic. Police must deal with people at their most vulnerable. Minutes pass like hours in the immediate aftermath of a crash, especially a violent crash in which people are severely and perhaps critically injured.  Police must quickly assess and triage the injured, perform life-saving measures, and provide first aid to those not critically injured. The officer must decide whether the ambulance must respond.

Once the dust settles, the officer will begin an investigation as to how the accident occurred.  The officer will interview the drivers if they are able, and any witnesses to the accident.  Witnesses may include passengers riding in the cars involved in the crash, pedestrians, and other motorists. Frequently, the officer’s investigation will be complete after reviewing the crash scene and interviewing witnesses.  The officer will then write a police report detailing the crash and listing any criminal or civil charges against a driver. If police suspect one of the drivers committed a serious crime causing the crash, then officers might call in a special unit, sometimes called an accident reconstruction unit, to determine how the crash occurred. An accident reconstructionist will respond if the crash results in a fatality and will also respond in other circumstances. An accident reconstructionist is a highly trained law enforcement officer who can use the physical evidence from the crash and make several determinations about what happened. The crash reconstructionist can determine the speed of the vehicles, the length of time the car was braking before the crash, and use the physical characteristics of the crash to determine what was going on inside the car seconds before the crash.

Technological advancements in motor vehicles also assist investigators. A vehicle’s data recorder aids an accident reconstructionist by storing pre and post-crash data. The data recorder is known as the “black box.” A car’s black box works like an airliner’s black box.  A vehicle’s black box records pre and post-crash speed, the amount of braking, the amount of steering, and as well as other factors.  Police must get a search warrant authorizing them to take the data recorder if the driver refuses to consent to police examining the item.

One thing police will want to know whether the driver or drivers were distracted at the time of the crash. The most obvious distraction is a cell phone. Most states have launched law enforcement campaigns to combat distracted driving. Many states now have “hands-free” laws, including Mississippi. Crash investigators will determine whether a driver was texting or using their cell phone immediately before the crash.

Where does the investigation lead? The police may charge a driver with a crime or a motor vehicle infraction if the investigation determines that a driver committed such an act. A person injured in the crash has a vested interest in seeing the police investigation through to the end.   Under Mississippi law, if a person injures another while breaking the law, the person who broke the law is “per se negligent.” The injured party might recover money damages if they were supposed to be protected by the law the other person broke that caused the crash. For instance, if a person driving under the influence of drugs or liquor crashes into another after swerving into the opposite lane and injures a person, the injured party does not have to prove the other was at fault. The injured party is certainly one whom the law was supposed to protect from harm.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Protecting The Rights Of The Injured

The Mississippi car accident attorneys at Giddens Law Firm, P.A. devote their practice to fighting for victims injured by another. Their experience and success are second to none. Call Giddens Law Firm, P.A. today at 601-355-2022 to schedule an appointment to learn the difference experience can make for you.

 

Mississippi Medical Malpractice Attorneys Caution That Claims Can Be Barred By Wrongful Conduct

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Healthcare professionals have a duty to treat their patients with reasonable care. What happens if the doctor prescribes painkilling medication that leads to an opiate addiction? Is the doctor responsible? With the opiate crisis in the United States reaching pandemic proportion as a result of over-prescribing prescription drugs, medical malpractice lawsuits present an alternative for a grieving family to redress their loss. The opiate crisis serves to put healthcare professionals on notice that over-prescribing painkillers can lead to addiction and death from overdose. On the other hand, possession of narcotics such and heroin and fentanyl without a prescription is a crime. Does the healthcare industry have a viable defense based on the wrongful conduct of the addict against malpractice claims?

A recent Mississippi court ruling illustrates the complexity of the question. The healthcare professionals in the case were a physician and an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility.  The young man stole Suboxone from the physician’s unlocked office. The young man died from an overdose of Suboxone. The young man’s parents sued the physician and the facility for medical malpractice. The healthcare professionals defended the malpractice suit by arguing that the young man’s illegal conduct prevents his family from claiming the physician and his staff committed malpractice.  But, the Suboxone to which the young man gained access was unlawfully stored in the physician’s office.

Mississippi has a long-standing rule of the law that has its origins in England that prevents a person from suing for injuries caused by their illegal conduct. The rule is called the “wrongful conduct rule.” The wrongful conduct rule states that courts will not allow a person to sue for injuries occurring while the injured person engaged in unlawful or immoral acts.  The wrongful conduct rule prevented a plaintiff from successfully claiming that his Oxycontin addiction was the fault of healthcare professionals.  The plaintiff sued several doctors and pharmacies saying it was their fault he was addicted to the drug because of they should have known he was an addict. The plaintiff lost because he committed fraud by obtaining Oxycontin prescriptions from several doctors and filled them at multiple pharmacies in three different cities.

The rule is limited. The defense will not work simply because the defendant says the plaintiff was doing something illegal when the plaintiff was hurt.  The defense is viable only if the injuries are the result of the illegal conduct. If the illegal conduct is not the direct cause of the injuries, then the plaintiff can recover damages. The wrongful conduct rule has another limitation as well. If both parties committed illegal acts, then the plaintiff can recover for injuries if the defendant’s illegal acts were greater than the plaintiff’s.

In the recent ruling, the court looked at the duty a hospital owes to people who are inpatients. The hospital must use reasonable care to protect the patient from a known or foreseeable danger and, if necessary, protect the patient from harming himself. It is foreseeable that a drug addict, seeking medical care for addiction, would try to steal and take drugs found on the premises. It is also foreseeable that an addict may overdose on narcotics as well. The unfortunate young man discussed in the case was struggling mightily in his battle with addiction. He was hospitalized to fight the addiction. It makes sense that the medical facility must take every precaution to make certain narcotics do not fall into the wrong hands.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Mississippi Medical Malpractice Lawyers Ready to Help

If a hospital or other medical treatment center failed to protect you or a loved one, call the experienced Mississippi Medical Malpractice Lawyers from Giddens Law Firm, P.A. at 601-355-2022. The lawyers at Giddens Law Firm, P.A. are passionate about helping victims win the compensation they deserve for their injuries.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney Explains How You Can Still Recover An Award Even If You Are Partly To Blame

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

The defense will always try to blame the injured person for causing an accident. In years past, the injured party could not recover any award if they somehow contributed to causing the accident. The jury could return a verdict awarding zero dollars if the injured party, called the plaintiff in court, was merely one percent at fault. Courts observed over the years that this rule was very harsh and unjust. Mississippi was the first state in the U.S. to change that rule. The new rule allows for plaintiffs to receive a jury award even if they did something wrong that contributed to their injuries.

The new rule, called comparative negligence, is found in Mississippi’s statutes. The comparative negligence rule applies in wrongful death cases, personal injury cases such as car accidents, as well as property damage cases. The rule says that if the person injured, or the owner of the property or the person who is in control of the property that is damaged did something wrong, then the injured party does not automatically lose. The percentage of fault for which the plaintiff is responsible reduces the jury award by that amount.

The theory is relatively simple in practice. The jury must find a percentage of fault for both the plaintiff and the defendant. The jury assesses damages at the amount proven by the plaintiff. The plaintiff will win the full amount of the award if they jury found the plaintiff did not contribute to the injuries. The jury must reduce the award if they find the plaintiff contributed to the accident or his injuries. If the jury finds that the plaintiff somehow contributed to the injuries, then the jury must reduce the total award by the percentage of fault the jury assigns to the plaintiff.  It is possible, under this theory of law, for the plaintiff to be 99% responsible and the defendant 1% responsible for the accident. In that case, the jury would award the plaintiff 1% of the total award.

The defense in every personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage case will blame the plaintiff for their injuries. The defense will claim that the plaintiff did not use reasonable caution to avoid an accident. The defense, most often a lawyer for an insurance company, will argue if the plaintiff was not careful, then the defendant is not responsible for all of the injuries the plaintiff suffered. The argument is designed to keep the insurance payouts lower.

A person should always be careful but given human nature and the various distractions we face in our modern society we can easily slip up. A person can try to remember a few simple rules to avoid contributing to their injuries if they are indeed unlucky enough to be in an accident.  A driver must always remain vigilant and follow the rules of the road. Remember to make full stops at stop signs and red lights and yield when merging. Also, you should always use your directionals when turning. Never, ever, drink and drive. Also, you should never text and drive. Try not to use your mobile device at all while driving. If you must use your device, then switch to hands-free mode. Hands-free will help you keep your eyes on the road and not looking down at your cellphone.  Pedestrians should bear the same rules in mind. Pedestrians must exercise caution when walking in the street by crossing on the correct light, crossing at a corner, and paying attention while walking and not being distracted by a cellphone.

Giddens Law Firm, P.A.: Fighting For Personal Injury Victims in Mississippi

Having experienced and seasoned personal injury attorneys on your side gives you the best chance of winning the award you deserve. Call the Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys at Gidden Law Firm, P.A. at 601-355-2022 today to learn how years of experience will result in justice for you.

Mississippi Personal Injury Attorneys Explain What Happens At An Independent Medical Examination

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Courts permit independent medical examinations of plaintiffs in certain lawsuits. An independent medical examination, or IME, is a tool for the defense to use against a plaintiff to determine if the plaintiff has reached a full recovery or reached a medical result for treatment. Attorneys defending insurance companies commonly use IMEs to show that the plaintiff’s injuries have healed, or the plaintiff is not limited or permanently disabled in any way.

The defense cannot simply order you to go to a doctor you did not choose. The defense must ask the court hearing the case for permission to send a plaintiff to an IME. Generally speaking, however, the defense is entitled to ask the court to allow an IME if the plaintiff claims physical injuries caused by the defendant.  The court can order the plaintiff to attend an IME if the defendant shows there is “good cause” to send the plaintiff for the IME. The judge will not allow an IME unless the defendant shows why good cause exists for an IME. The IME can be a physical examination or a mental health examination.  The plaintiff’s medical condition must be an issue in the trial before a judge orders an IME.  The defense must give the plaintiff notice of when and where to appear. Also, the examination is not without strict boundaries. The IME’s limitations must be specifically spelled out, meaning the doctor cannot examine the plaintiff for anything and everything. The examination must be related to the injuries that are an issue in the case.

The defendant cannot show good cause simply because a plaintiff sues a defendant for damages stemming from injuries caused by the defendant. The defense must prove to the judge that there is no alternative but to have an IME. That means the defense has to look through all of the medical records produced in the case as well as all of the other sources of information at their disposal. Other sources of information include interrogatories or written questions, and depositions, especially depositions of medical experts.

The IME is limited to the order made by the judge. The time, place, identity of the qualified medical professional who will perform the examination as well as the scope of the examination. The defense is not allowed to select any physician it wants to perform the examination. These requirements make certain that the IME is conducted fairly, without stacking the deck for the defense.  The plaintiff should object to the doctor nominated by the defense if the doctor is known to be defendant-friendly or otherwise impartial in some respect.  The whole idea is to have an “independent” physician examine the plaintiff. It is often best that the parties agree on the doctor performing the exam. That way the plaintiff can feel comfortable knowing that she had a say in the process. The judge will appoint a doctor if neither party can agree on a physician. The plaintiff can feel comfortable in this situation as well because the physician will have no bias toward either side.

An IME can benefit the plaintiff. If the doctor who performed the IME writes a favorable report about the plaintiff’s condition, then the plaintiff can use that report in court to help prove her case.  In reality, if the results of the IME favor the plaintiff, the defendant will look to settle the case.

Gidden Law Firm, P.A.: Helping The Injured Through Their Toughest Times

The experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyers at the Gidden Law Firm, P.A. will be by your side every step of the way. Do not trust your future to any other firm. Call Gidden Law Firm, P.A. today at 601-355-2022 to schedule your free consultation.