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Supplementary Materials

Supplementary Materials

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Published by Alex Storch
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Published by: Alex Storch on Jan 15, 2014
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In-depth practice area pages:
Personal Injury
Overview
Personal injury is an “umbrella” practice area that includes all manner of accidents, medical malpractice, products/premises liability, wrongful death and related matters involving injuries (one of our client
rms focuses on dog bite incidents, for example), and it can sometimes encompass workers' compensation as well, but some lawyers and law
rms focus exclusively on workers' compensation too. We have included addenda for wrongful death and workers' compensation at the end of this section as well.
What is personal injury – in a nutshell?
The vast practice area of personal injury law pertains, for our purposes, to civil claims on behalf of those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party. Our target
rms take on plainti
ff 
s' personal injury claims, so the injured plainti
ff 
 will always be the client; therefore, your perspective should be tailored toward a hypothetical injured client. As suggested in the above all-purpose de
nition, a key aspect of any personal injury case is negligence and the demonstration thereof in order to potentially secure a positive outcome in the case, be it in the form of a pretrial settlement or damages awarded after a judge or judge and jury
nds in favor of the plainti
ff 
. Not all cases go to trial, and many cases may be negotiated before the case goes to trial at the settlement table. Read more here: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/personal-injury-terms-and-procedures.html Negligence may be proven in multiple ways, but a key concept that frequently emerges is duty of care. In a nutshell, it's the legal obligation a person has to act reasonably when engaging in activities that could result in injury to another person or death. You can read more about this important concept here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_of_care
What could a personal injury lawyer do for his or her client?
Personal injury lawyers may evaluate and assemble a civil claim by considering evidence such as investigations by other authorities (whether it is an inquiry into a suspected medical malpractice incident by a state medical board or local police o
cers' investigation into a fatal car accident), witness accounts, camera footage and reports from accident reconstructionists; negotiate a settlement with the responsible party or, in some MVA cases, his or her insurance company; represent the plainti
ff 
 in court in a civil trial; and advise the client about issues relevant to the speci
c case such as the state's statute of limitations if, for instance, the responsible party in a fatal hit-and-run turns up a year after the incident (you need an identi
able defendant in order to construct a civil claim).
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What does “MVA” stand for? How do I handle these blogs?
“MVA,” as it appears in the order title for some personal injury blogs, stands for “motor vehicle accidents,” and they are the most common subcategory of personal injury for which blog authors generate content. Source stories for this PI subcategory usually focus on a speci
c accident in the target
rm's geographical area, but national-caliber stories about new passenger vehicle technologies or studies on texting while driving, for example, may crop up as well. Craft your summary like you would any other blog – focus on the important points
rst, and then
ll out the details. Make sure your narrative of the sequence of events (if discussing a speci
c accident) is clear enough that the reader can construct an accurate picture of what happened without having to read the source
rst. See the general tips and suggestions document for tips on avoiding straight-paraphrasing, which MVA blogs are particularly prone to due to the nature and structure of their source stories.In many of these stories, the victim – either deceased or injured – should ideally not be the person at fault; for this reason, single-car accidents are largely discouraged, but they may work if the passenger was injured. Tailor your conclusion around the injured victim and the topic of negligence.When constructing a conclusion speculating about the hypothetical actions of a victim in the case you are discussing (“should he or she choose to
le a claim,” of course), refrain from defending the motorist who seems to be at fault. For example, in a blog about a pedestrian accident, talking about how the pedestrian might have run
 
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into the road (thereby excusing the motorist who struck him or her) isn't really appropriate unless the source explicitly states that this, in fact, happened. Instead, you could speculate about the possibility of the motorist being distracted or intoxicated and how he or she might have had time to react had he or she exercised his or her duty of care.If your accident story is vague on details because the accident just occurred and is still being investigated, it leaves room for speculation when you discuss what the completed investigation may turn up. Consider the following: 1. Was an intersection involved? It may be possible to speculate about how at least one of the drivers may not have been obeying tra
c signals (light or sign), which could indicate negligence.2. Was a pedestrian/motorcycle driver involved? You could talk about how passenger car drivers need to be vigilant at all times in order to see these vulnerable and sometimes less visible individuals, and if the accident occurred at a crosswalk, you could discuss the pedestrian's right of way.3. U-turns and left turns present their own problems since they require accurately gauging the speed of oncoming tra
c as well as noting others who may be taking turns onto the same street at the same time. Impairment or distraction may cause a motorist to inaccurately gauge these elements and make a turn into another vehicle.4. Other elements, such as weather conditions or the fact that the accident occurred in a densely populated area, may be usable for speculating about due care and the motorist's obligation to exercise it while driving.Keep in mind that there is a di
ff 
erence between civil and criminal negligence, and the burden of proof is di
ff 
erent for each one. That said, a conviction for criminal negligence may inspire a civil case based in civil negligence;  just remember that one doesn't directly a
ff 
ect the other. A criminal conviction does not automatically guarantee guilt in a civil trial!
Tips and suggestions for writing personal injury blogs:
The big points:
Be careful with phrasing: It's important to make sure your summary doesn't resemble the source story in phrasing or the order in which information is presented (narrative), but be careful when using your own words since some word choices can change the meaning of the original text. While certain words are similar, they can bring di
ff 
erent images to mind: “veered,” “swerved,” “crossed over,” “lost control,” “drifted,” “careened,” – All have di
ff 
erent visualizations, and the same applies for “hit,” “slammed into” and “collided with.” “At a high rate of speed” does not necessarily mean “speeding.” For instance, a speed limit is 65 mph can be considered a high rate of speed. Likewise, stories with approximate
gures (“about 40,000 Sedona vans were recalled”) should maintain the sense of approximation with the word “about” or similar. Stating that “the manufacturer recalled 40,000 vehicles” would constitute a factual error, but “about 40,000 vehicles” is
ne.Please avoid overdramatic or “tragic” phrasing. While these orders are meant to cater to those who have been injured, their purpose is not to create excessive sympathy. There's a tendency in injury blogs to emphasize the victim's su
ff 
ering and the "tragic" nature of the incident and shy away from what can more meaningfully
ll in the word count -- a discussion of liability /putting together a hypothetical case of this nature.There are a number of sources that are used that reference people dying in accidents. Please note that this does not refer to those people’s “wrongful deaths.” The reason for this is that a wrongful death is a civil claim, not an event. If these individuals’ deaths were caused by someone else, their families might
le wrongful death claims in court.“Car accident lawyers,” “vehicle lawyers” and “wrongful death lawyers” do not technically exist. All of these subcategories are generally taken care of by personal injury lawyers. For more information on lawyer types, please visit http://www.lawyeredu.org/law-careers.htmlAttorneys are NOT investigators. While they can use the results of a completed accident investigation to construct a case or enlist the services of an accident reconstructionist, saying that they will “investigate the accident” implies that they are conducting the investigation themselves.
 
                S                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            u                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              p                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         p                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      l                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              e                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              m                                                                                                                                                                                            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Wrongful Death: Overview and tips
For wrongful death claims, families cannot usually claim grief or emotional pain and su
ff 
ering. For the few times that it is possible, it is still rare. Some states allow for pain and su
ff 
ering compensation in a wrongful death claim if it can be proven that the victim was conscious and could physically feel pain before death. This is very di
cult to prove, and it isn’t usually done. Keep in mind that while mentioning compensation for emotional pain and su
ff 
ering can be wrong, leaving it out is always right.“Mental anguish” is not always recoverable in wrongful death claims, and each state takes a di
ff 
erent approach: http://gkt.com/faqs/wrongful_death_faqs.htm http://www.wisegeek.com/in-law-what-is-mental-anguish.htm
Here's a useful spreadsheet containing links to wrongful death recovery statutes for every state:
[Link to Rebecca's Google doc here]Lastly, only use the phrase “wrongful death” in the context of a wrongful death claim. Please avoid statements such as “the wrongful death occurred on Oct. 29 when...”
Workers' Compensation: Overview and tips
W
hile some
rms concentrate entirely on assisting injured workers with – and litigating and appealing if necessary – workers' compensation claims, these matters generally fall under the auspices of the personal injury “umbrella” category. The signi
cant distinction between a WC case and a standard personal injury claim boils down to liability. It is very important to note the following when crafting a conclusion for a blog categorized under “workers' compensation”:1. Filing a WC claim and accepting the settlement waives the injured worker's right to a civil lawsuit (i.e. a personal injury claim).2. A WC claim does not require proof of negligence on the part of the employer. What must be proven is that the worker su
ff 
ered the injury while on the job. Filing a claim for an injury su
ff 
ered outside the workplace – even if working conditions aggravate the injury – may be considered workers' compensation fraud, but this fact will not
gure in to your conclusion since the focus in these blogs is on helping the injured worker.3. If negligence or willful negligence
gures in strongly in the story you're reading about, you could talk about
ling a civil claim – personal injury or wrongful death – instead of/after rejecting a standard WC claim or settlement o
ff 
er. Speculating about a civil claim against an employer is best for source articles dealing with OSHA investigations and citations.If it turns out that the worker was injured or killed on account of some gross negligence on the part of the employer, and OSHA investigates and
nds fault with the employer, it may be better for the worker or the family of the deceased worker to
le a lawsuit rather than a workers' comp claim or claim for workers' compensation death bene
ts. The payouts in these lawsuits may be larger since there is a cap in every state on WC bene
ts but not on recovery from a lawsuit. On the other hand, if the worker was injured through his or her own conduct or through no fault of the employer (he or she was simply on duty when an accident occurred), the expenses of pursuing a lawsuit would likely not be worth it, but he or she may still be eligible for WC.
Personal Injury
Addenda for special subcategories

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