Author: Alli Mandoske

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Workers’ Compensation – Know Your Coverage

Workers Should Consider Third Party Action in Serious Work Accidents

After a workplace accident, many injured workers assume that workers’ compensation insurance coverage will pay for all financial losses they have suffered as a result of the accident. This is not the case. Workers’ compensation covers only very specific medical and disability payments. It does not cover pain and suffering, property damage, or other losses. These losses can be expensive. Many workers may have to file a third-party action in order to access alternate sources of compensation for such losses. An experienced Arizona workplace accident attorney can help you determine how best to protect your legal rights after sustaining an injury on the job.

Workers’ compensation coverage is a trade-off for injured employees. They do not have to prove who was legally responsible (“liable”) for the accident. Simply being injured within the scope of employment enables an employee to access workers’ compensation coverage. But because of this, the coverage is limited. It is therefore important that injured workers explore other sources of compensation available to them.

What is a Third Party Action?

A third party action is a separate legal claim against another individual (or company, or other legal entity) which bears legal responsibility for the workplace accident. Many types of workplace accidents give rise to a third party claim, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. For example; a negligent driver causes an accident with a work vehicle. The workers inside are injured and seek workers’ compensation coverage for their medical bills. The injured workers also have a third party action against the negligent driver, who is legally obligated to compensate their pain and suffering and other legal losses not covered by their employer ’s workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers may also have third-party claims against manufacturers who make defective equipment or vehicles which cause a workplace injury. These “products liability” claims apply to any manufacturer of consumer goods. Such companies have a legal duty of care to manufacture products which are safe for ordinary uses by consumers. Products which have defects in design or manufacturing can cause injuries (including injuries in the workplace). Such injury victims have a legal case against the product’s manufacturer.

What Workers Are Doing To Promote Workplace Safety

Lately, many federal regulations promoting workplace safety have been removed, exposing workers to unnecessary risks. Workers should not ignore these important policy changes. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, for example, is observing Workers Memorial Day on April 28, 2018. This is a day to honor those who have suffered workplace injuries and been killed on the job. The AFL-CIO is also using the occasion as a call to action for workers who wish to fight for renewed safety regulations in the workplaces of America.

Want more?  Learn about your rights in an accident with a self-driving car.

The Right Representation  for Your Family’s Legal Rights

After any work accident, it is important to consult an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You have legal rights to compensation which might not be fully covered by worker’s compensation coverage. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to info@fitelaw.com. Our experienced attorneys will fight hard to access all sources of compensation to which you are entitled as the result of a workplace accident.

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The Opioid Crisis: America Fights Back

Opioid use has become a fast-spreading epidemic which affects thousands of American families.

According to the New York Times, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in October 2017, but failed to provide any funding to support the designation. Other legislative and political efforts have also fallen short of making widespread progress on the issue on a national level. (Business Insider reports that the governors of Arizona, Florida and Maryland have all declared states of emergency, in order to grant them access to federal grant moneys through the Department of Health and Human Services.) With so many opinions on such a complicated issue, it can be difficult for victims to know where to turn to address the problem. An experienced personal injury attorney can help victims explore their options for asserting legal rights which have been violated as a result of opioid use.

Impaired Driving is Not Just Caused By Alcohol

With so much media attention focused on drunk driving, it can be easy to overlook the expanding problem of drugged driving. The Washington Post reports that 2015 was the first year in which drugged driving caused more traffic fatalities than drunk driving. Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reports that the number of opioid-impaired drivers who caused fatal traffic accidents increased seven times between 1995 and 2015. Victims of drugged driving accidents have legal rights in both the criminal court system (as the victim of a crime) and civil court system (for compensation for financial losses incurred as a result of the accident). It is important for victims to access both court systems in order to hold drugged drivers accountable for their dangerous conduct.

The Liability of Doctors and Pharmaceutical Manufacturers

It is not just an opioid user who can be found legally responsible for the opioid crisis. Doctors who negligently prescribe opioids can also be exposed to legal responsibility (liability). A doctor is held to a duty of due care when treating a patient. This is the duty to act as a reasonably prudent doctor of similar training and experience would act in similar circumstances. A doctor who fails to do so can be found negligent by a jury, and thus obligated to compensate the patient for any financial losses he or she sustained as a result of this medical malpractice. Because opioids have been extensively researched and are known to be addictive, the reasonable doctor must exercise caution when prescribing them.

Pharmaceutical companies can also be liable for injuries and losses caused by opioid addiction. Many of these manufacturers make vast sums of money from the sale of highly addictive opioid painkillers. They, like other manufacturers of consumer goods, can be held liable for putting dangerous products into the hands of consumers. Opioids have long been known to be addictive and dangerous. This knowledge can lead to liability for a pharmaceutical company which irresponsibly advertises, distributes, promotes, and otherwise sells the product.

For more on medical errors & your rights, click here.

The Right Attorney for Your Opioid Case

Our firm holds negligent medical professionals and medication manufacturers accountable for conduct which puts patients in danger. If you or a loved one has been harmed by an opioid medication, contact our office as soon as possible in order to protect your legal rights. You can schedule your free consultation by calling (602) 368-1869, or emailing our office at info@fitelaw.com. We fight hard for the compensation injury victims deserve.

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Forced Arbitration Silences Victims of Sexual Harassment

Forced Arbitration Silences Victims of Sexual Harassment

In recent months, the #metoo movement has brought media attention to a staggering amount of sexual harassment and abuse of power across many of America’s largest industries. Politicas, entertainment, technology and many other sectors have been plagued by allegations of inappropriate behavior in the workplace and coercive sexual advances. These media reports have raised a devastating question: how could so much abuse go unreported for so long?

This is, of course, a complicated question with many possible answers. One of the recurring themes of these reports is the agreements which were used to keep women silent about the abuse they had suffered. In some cases, they were as devious as a blatant agreement to keep silent in exchange for “hush money”. In other cases, they were completely enforceable legal contracts which used the legal process to bully victims into silence. This has often been achieved by the use of an arbitration agreement.

What is an Arbitration Agreement?

An arbitration agreement occurs when two parties agree to submit their disputes to arbitration before they file a lawsuit. Many consumers enter such agreements when obtaining a credit card or cell phone service.  In the employment context, many employers require their workers to sign such agreements as a condition of employment. Such agreements will generally require the employee to submit any employment-related legal claims (including sexual harassment) to arbitration before a lawsuit can be filed. In many cases, arbitration must remain confidential, and the employee is not permitted to disclose information about the process.

Unfortunately, many employers have been able to use arbitration clauses to prevent employees from revealing abuse to the press, or otherwise making harassment public in an effort to stop it. An arbitration agreement cannot stop a victim from reporting a crime to law enforcement officials. It can, however, prevent exactly the type of media coverage which has made the #metoo movement so effective.

Hope for the Future

Despite the horrific stories being covered in the media, the recent reports of widespread sexual harassment have also brought the promise of change to the American workplace. The New York Times reports that Microsoft has eliminated forced arbitration of its employees’ sexual harassment claims. The technology giant is also supporting proposed federal legislation that would ban such agreements in employment relationships. This legislation is yet another hopeful sign of things to come, as it has bipartisan support in the Senate.

Change will not, of course, come quickly. But by enacting small changes, and holding each employer responsible for inappropriate conduct in the workplace, the American workforce can slowly become a safer place for everyone.

Aggressive Pursuit of Your Sexual Harassment Claim

The Fite Law Group believes in protecting victims of all sorts of personal injuries. Sexual harassment can be among the most demeaning and emotionally damaging type of injury a person can sustain. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you need an aggressive attorney with the experience to effectively pursue all legal options. Call (602) 368-1869, or send an email to info@fitelaw.com, to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney.

Looking for more?  Consider reading Changes to the Rules of Lawsuits

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What If Something Goes Wrong With a Self-Driving Car or Truck?

Self-driving vehicles have become an increasingly familiar sight on the roads in and around Phoenix.  This exciting technology holds the potential to reduce a large number of auto accidents which are caused by human error. But it does pose an important legal question: Who is at fault for an accident caused by a self-driving vehicle? For the most part, existing statutes and case law do not adequately answer this novel question. There are several possibilities.

Products Liability: Manufacturers of consumer goods have an obligation to make their products reasonably safe for the consumers who will use them. Because of this, auto manufacturers can be liable for accidents caused by defective parts, equipment or systems. This is why some auto manufacturers issue recalls of faulty equipment. In such a case, the company’s lawyers and accountants have determined that it will be less expensive to recall the product than to pay the likely costs of lawsuits.

In the case of a self-driving car or truck, the vehicle will consist of many more consumer products and systems than those vehicles which are piloted by a human driver. An autonomous driving program which malfunctions may incur liability to the software manufacturer which developed the system, the hardware manufacturer which designed its parts, the systems engineer who integrated both systems together, or the manufacturer of the entire vehicle. Which manufacturer is liable will depend upon the exact nature of the malfunction which occurred. In many cases, more than one manufacturer can be liable for an accident caused by an autonomous vehicle.

The Other Driver: Autonomous driving technologies have impressive success rates. They are programmed with an enormous amount of data to predict an impressive variety of driving scenarios. They also eliminate human error in driving tasks (if not in the design process). For these reasons, it is highly likely that many accidents involving self-driving vehicles will be the fault of the other driver involved in the accident, and not the driver or manufacturer of the autonomous vehicle. In this situation, traditional rules of liability will apply. The responsible driver will be legally obligated to compensate the victim for all property damage, medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages which occur as the result of his or her negligence.

Just How Safe Are Self-Driving Vehicles?

Many drivers, government regulators, and politicians are adverse to a driving technology which completely eliminates the need for a licensed driver to be in the vehicle. Yet time and again, research demonstrates that self-driving vehicles are safer than vehicles driven by humans. C-Net reports that 94 percent of accidents caused by human error could be eliminated by the use of autonomous vehicle technology. “Human error” can constitute a wide variety of bad driving behavior. Drunk driving, drowsy driving, distracted driving and road rage account for thousands of traffic deaths every year across the United States – deaths which could be prevented by autonomous driving technologies which are impervious to such disruptions.

For some helpful tips on driving your non-automated car safer, read this article.

Aggressive Defense of Your Personal Injury Claim Arising From an Auto Accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident – whether involving an autonomous vehicle or not – it is important to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to info@fitelaw.com. Our friendly staff and experienced attorneys will conduct a thorough review of your claim in order to best protect your legal interests.

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How the Civil Justice System Made America Safer in 2017

How the Civil Justice System Made America Safer in 2017

Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured in accidents across the United States. Auto accidents, workplace accidents, household accidents, medical malpractice, and many other types of negligences cause devastating financial losses to many families. It is important for injury victims to enforce their legal right to be compensated for financial losses caused by other person or company’s negligence. Not only is this a right protected by state and federal law, but such claims and lawsuits also hold defendants accountable for conduct which places other people at risk of injury and harm. In this way, the civil justice system makes daily life safer for drivers, workers, and patients across the country.

 

Important Cases of 2017

The major civil lawsuits of 2017 demonstrate the wide variety of public health and safety issues which are addressed by the civil justice system on a daily basis. In Albuquerque, a federal judge allowed claims to go forward against a tobacco manufacturer which advertised its products as “natural”. CNBC reports that the lawsuits came after a 2015 finding by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the company had misled consumers about the risks associated with its products. In an agreement with the FDA, the company has since stopped labeling its products as “additive free”, and restricted the use of the “natural” label in its marketing products. These actions undoubtedly contributed to consumers’ feelings of injustice over being misled about the tobacco products.

 

CNBC also reports on important legal actions against General Motors as a result of defective airbags. GM has reportedly paid $2.6 billion in penalties and settlements as a result of defective ignition switches, which cause engines to stall and prevent airbags from deploying. This total includes a $900 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in order to settle criminal charges resulting from the defect. As of November 30, 2017, there were still 1,723 unresolved personal injury claims resulting from the defective ignition switches. GM is now in private litigation to resolve these cases.

 

The opioid crisis was also a major public health problem in 2017. Many different legal tactics have been used to address the problem, and now the civil justice system is being used, as well. According to The Atlantic, the Attorney General of Ohio has filed a lawsuit against several large pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuit accused the companies of spending millions of dollars on marketing campaigns which trivialize the risks of opioids and overstate their benefits for chronic pain. This and similar lawsuits result from new and emerging evidence of the role big pharmaceutical companies may have played in creating the opioid crisis. In addition to heavy – and potentially dangerous – marketing efforts, pharmaceutical companies spend significant amounts of money to lobby both doctors and politicians to make their drugs more available to the public.

 

These are just three of the hundreds of example of important social issues which are addressed by the civil justice system in the United States. Public safety is very much affected by the actions of both large companies and individuals alike. When that conduct is dangerous, it places all members of the public in danger.

 

2017 has also been an unprecedented year in how civil lawsuits are handled. Some of the most significant changes were an attempt to make the process quicker and more efficient to account for all the new technology available to lawyers today.  Read further here.

 

The Importance of a Good Attorney

With the advice of an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney, injury victims can enforce their legal rights, hold negligent individuals and companies responsible for dangerous conduct, and help make America safer for everyone. Schedule your free consultation with the Fite Law Group by calling (602) 368-1869, or sending an email to info@fitelaw.com. We fight hard to protect injury victims’ legal rights and prevent defendants from harming other innocent victims with their dangerous conduct.