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Protect your Family from Holiday Decoration Hazards

Holiday Decoration HazardsThe holiday season is a magical time, but Christmas traditions and celebrations create plenty of opportunities for personal injury. Last week we discussed the perils of parking lots during the holiday season. This week we’re focusing on the dangers of holiday decorations.

Emergency rooms across the country treated about 14,700 holiday decorating-related injuries over the past holiday season. Read these safety tips and avoid the ER this holiday season!

Don’t let a House Fire ruin your Christmas

Keep your Christmas Tree fresh

This video by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates the dangers of dry Christmas Trees. If you’re buying a live tree, make sure it’s fresh. It should have sturdy, green needles and the branches should be easily bent.

At home, choose a safe spot for your tree, far away from heat sources such as fireplaces, vents and radiators.

Christmas Tree SafetyBefore setting your tree up slice a piece off the bottom of the trunk to help it absorb water. Then, place it in a water stand and keep an eye on the water level every day. Water the tree when necessary.

Get rid of the tree after Christmas. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.

If you choose to buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire resistant”. Artificial trees with built-in electrical systems should have the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label. This means the lights meet national industry standards. 

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Parking Lot Safety during the Christmas Holidays

winter-430469_1920 The holiday shopping season is in full swing and malls are humming with activity. Shoppers caught up in the holiday frenzy are often in a hurry and pay little attention to their surroundings, which results in numerous accidents, particularly in the Nation’s crowded parking lots.

According to the National Safety Council, more than 50,000 crashes occur in parking lots and garage structures annually, resulting in 500 or more deaths and more than 60,000 injuries.

One of the major reasons behind the collisions, injuries and even fatalities that happen in parking lots is the false sense of security everyone feels when navigating parking areas: People expect vehicles to drive at slow speeds and therefore are less vigilant.

During the holiday shopping season, crowded parking lots and nasty winter weather can combine to create particularly dangerous parking lot conditions.

Typical Winter Accidents

It is the Season for Slip and Falls – particularly in our parking lots. That’s because puddles and icy conditions on the walking surface are not always easy to detect for a busy pedestrian, especially when lighting conditions are poor.

Another typical parking lot accident consists of pedestrian injuries caused by vehicle impact. According to the NSC, backup incidents are behind more than one-third of pedestrian deaths in parking lots. Crowded parking lots during the holiday shopping season make these accidents more likely, as visibility is impaired and shoppers tend to be distracted.

At this time of the year, slippery driving surfaces are another aggravating factor in pedestrian-vehicle collisions, as cars are at risk of skidding across the parking lot. This is particularly the case at higher speed and on wet or icy surfaces.

Avoid the Perils of Parking Lots

multi-storey-car-park-2705368_1920We have compile some basic parking lot safety tips for drivers:

  • Focus while driving: In a National Safety Council public opinion poll, 66% of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots. Avoid distractions such as calling, texting, using apps or eating while driving.
  • Drive slowly: Always observe the speed limits.
  • Obey lane markings and traffic signs: Make sure you’re not going the wrong way by watching the arrows on the pavement. At intersections, obey the stop signs and follow the standard right-of-way rules.
  • Be patient while driving: Don’t rush through the parking lot, don’t stop abruptly to secure that coveted spot, don’t follow another vehicle too closely. Trust us, eventually a parking space will open up.
  • Enter your parking spot by backing up whenever possible. This allows you exit the space safely later on.
  • Buckle up: Remind yourself AND your children and teens to use seat belts.

For pedestrians, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t assume that a driver will see you.
  • Make yourself visible: Walk in groups whenever possible. Don’t walk between parked vehicles.
  • Always look both ways before crossing and use sidewalks where available.

Steps to take after a Parking Lot Accident

crashed-car-2727666_1920Find out what steps you should take after a car accident in our Blog. Generally speaking drivers involved in a traffic accident in a parking lot have the same responsibility as if they were in an accident on a public road or highway.

Parking lot accident liability can fall on the driver, the pedestrian or the parking lot owner or manager. The owner or manager could be liable for if a parking lot is poorly designed in way that creates a high risk of accidents. He or she could also be held liable if the signage in the parking area is poorly displayed, if there are hazards or blockages in the parking area or if access lanes are poorly maintained. Particularly during the winter months walking and driving surfaces must be cleared of snow and ice promptly and regularly.

Remember, one the best ways to preserve a potential injury lawsuit is to take as many photos as possible of the scene and the people involved. This will support your case and help determine liability.

If you have been involved in a recent parking lot accident, contact us or call us at 1-866-829-2169. We will put you in touch with a personal injury attorney in your area to discuss your case.


Nearly 51 Million Americans on the Road this Year

Thanksgiving Road Safety TipsThanksgiving brings families and friends together across large distances to celebrate the harvest, give thanks and enjoy each others’ company. This year auto club AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home. That’s the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005! Having more people on the road unfortunately increases the potential of vehicle crashes. That’s why we have compiled a series of safety tips to keep you safe on the road.

Stay safe with our Thanksgiving Road Safety Tips

Make sure your vehicle is in good working order

• If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
• Stock your car with an emergency kit. Consider getting a flashlight, flares or triangle reflectors, jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, an ice scraper, a first-aid kit, and some basic tools.

Keep calm and in control

• Study your route ahead of time to minimize the risks of driving in unfamiliar territory.
• Follow the weather reports and try to avoid driving in hazardous weather conditions.
• Allow for extra travel time.
• Be patient while driving. If you are prone to road rage, keep it at bay by remembering that safety is your number one concern.

Buckle up

• Use your seat belt; it’s one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes. According to the CDC, more than half of teens (13-19 years) and adults aged 20-44 years who died in crashes in 2015 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.
• Inspect your seat belts for proper fit.
• Remind yourself AND your children and teens to use their seat belts before every trip.

Pay attention

• Avoid distractions such as texting, using apps or eating while driving.
• Secure your children and your pets.
• Observe changing traffic patterns caused by construction sites or traffic accidents.
• Make frequent stops, particularly if you are getting tired. If possible, rotate drivers during long trips.

Drive responsibly

• Observe the speed limits.
• Don’t follow another vehicle too closely.

Prevent drunk or impaired driving

• If you plan to drink at a Thanksgiving celebration, make sure to arrange for a sober driver prior to the party or hire a taxi.
• Make sure friends and family members don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or drugs.
• If you see a drunk driver contact local law enforcement immediately.
• Don’t forget that prescription medications and marijuana can also be impairing by themselves, or in combination with alcohol.

 

Injured? Call for a FREE consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney.

 

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Scary Statistics

Halloween is scary, but not for the reasons that you might think. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Halloween night 2016: 

  • 47 people died and nearly a third were due to drunk drivers – three times the fatalities of an average day.
  • Thirty percent of Halloween crash fatalities were pedestrians, compared to only 16 percent on an average day.
  • Over the last four years, from 2012-2016, 22 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.

Halloween PumpkinsSafety experts at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt warn that “twice as many children are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year”. According to research conducted by Sperling’s BestPlaces, over 60% of these accidents occur in the 4-hour period from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Aside from motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents, typical Halloween injuries include slip and falls, costume-related accidents and injuries and burns from candles and candlelit pumpkins.

Safety Tips for you and your family

Here’s what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe as you prepare for a fun-filled night of trick-or-treating:

MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE

  • Make sure motorist can see you, especially at night and in low light.
  • Carry a flashlight or wear a small flashing strobe light.
  • Choose brightly colored and reflective clothing. Reflective materials on the parts of your body that move (feet, legs, and arms) are particularly effective.

WALK SAFELY

  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths.
  • Cross the street at corners and using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.

AVOID FIRE HAZARDS

  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.
  • Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin.
  • Don’t leave candles or candlelit Halloween pumpkins unattended.

PREVENT FALLS

  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Remove anything that visiting trick-or-treater could trip over from your porch and front yard. Typical items that people tend to trip over include garden hoses, bikes, toys and poorly positioned Halloween decorations.
  • Keep costumes short to prevent trips and falls.

AVOID ALLERGIC REACTIONS

  • Always test Halloween make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
  • Do not let your children eat any treats until an adult has inspected them. Discard any homemade or unwrapped treats.

PREVENT DRUNK DRIVING

  • Before going to a Halloween Party, plan a way to safely get home at the end of the night. Designate a sober driver, book a hotel room near the festivities, or call a cab to pick you up after the party.
  • Make sure friends and family don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.

 

Injured? Call for a FREE consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney.

 

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What makes a Personal Injury Case

What is a personal injury case?Many people don’t call a personal injury attorney because they aren’t sure if their experience qualifies as a personal injury case. Let’s shed some light on what makes a case.

First of all, for a case to be heard, typically you must have suffered harm as a result of wrongful or negligent actions of a third person or entity. In plain English: Were you hurt and was it someone else’s fault? Then you might have a case.

Personal injury law allows the injured plaintiff to get compensation for the harm suffered, so long as he can demonstrate both liability as well as damages. What does that exactly mean for you? It means that you must be able to prove that whoever harmed you is liable for the damages you suffered. Furthermore, you must be able to explain exactly the extent and nature of the harm you suffered.

Does that all still sound a bit too abstract for you to decide whether you should sue? In that case, we’re here to help. We have connected over 4 million injury victims with experienced personal injury attorneys in their local area. Each of our Injury HelpLine attorneys is prepared and ready to listen to the details of your case. You can choose to hire him or not – the first consultation is free and carries no obligation. At the very least, after talking to one of our licensed attorneys you’ll have a better idea if it’s worth filing a lawsuit.

Types of Personal Injury Cases

If you’re not quite ready to talk to an attorney, we have prepared a list of typical personal injury cases that may help you think through your own situation.

Vehicle Accidents

Vehicle accidents include accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, tractors and all terrain vehicles (ATVs). Vehicle accidents are the leading source of personal injury cases in the United States.

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), there were over 6 million reported motor vehicle crashes in 2015 alone, resulting in 35,092 fatalities and 2.4 million people injured.

Vehicle crashes can cause a wide variety of injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises, to permanent brain damage or even death.

Injured victims usually file two types of legal claims following a vehicle accident – a claim for property damage, and a claim for personal injury. In fatal accident cases, family members may want to consider a wrongful death claim.

Learn more about vehicle accidents in our car accident claim guide and in our motorcycle accident claim guide.

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personal injury checklistYou or your loved ones have been injured in an accident. It’s a confusing and stressful situation, so be sure to take care of your health first. After getting medical treatment, consult our personal injury checklist detailing the important things to consider after an accident:

1. Determine if the injury was someone else’s fault

If you can show that a third party is liable for the damages you sustained, you may want to consider pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. To see if your situation qualifies as a personal injury case, read our personal injury basics guide.

If you prefer to skip reading and are ready to talk to an attorney, just fill out a quick form and we’ll be happy to connect you for a free consultation.

2. Find out if you can get compensated for your injury

A bar-certified personal injury attorney can help you understand what compensation you can get for the injuries sustained. We can help you find an attorney in your area within minutes.

To get an overview on how much your personal injury case may be worth start by reading our guide to personal injury compensation.

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How to interview your prospective personal injury attorneyYou’ve just been through a traumatic experience and are exhausted from dealing with doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and your own personal feelings about your recent injury. Careful – you still need to keep a clear head so you can find the right personal injury lawyer to represent you.

Here are some key questions to ask your prospective attorney to see if he is qualified to handle your case:

Area of Expertise

• Are you a generalist or do you specialize in personal injury cases?
• How many personal injury cases have you successfully taken to trial?
• Can I get a reference from one of your past clients?
• Will you be personally handling my case?

These questions are aimed at finding out if you will get an experienced personal injury attorney. Most cases settle outside of court, but there is a chance you may have to go to trial. If you think this is likely, be sure to find out if the lawyer is prepared and ready to take your case to trial.

Finally, also make sure that the lawyer you are interviewing will be in fact the one representing you.

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Personal injury legal fees need not deplete your savingsMost people only use a lawyer once or twice in their lifetime, which makes it difficult for them to assess their personal injury legal fees. The last thing you want to do after you or your loved ones have been through a traumatic experience is to add financial risk to an already complex situation.

We’ve compiled a guide to personal injury legal fees that will make it easier for you to determine how you will be charged. We hope this guide will make your search for legal representation as stress free and painless as possible.

Your first consultation can be free

If you are worried about spending money up front, Injury Helpline can put you in contact with a lawyer in your area so you can get a free consultation first. This will help you determine if you have a case and what it may be worth – at no extra cost to you.

Request a summary of fees, if any, up front!

If you decide to hire legal representation, you’ll need to understand how the legal fee system works. This can be confusing, which is why the American Bar Association recommends that personal injury lawyers explain their fees in writing as soon as possible after agreeing to take your case. Be sure to request this information from your lawyer!

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In February 2016, a Missouri jury ordered the pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson, to pay $72 million for the wrongful death of Jacqueline Fox. Fox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson baby powder with talc for feminine hygiene purposes, for more than thirty-five years.


Punitive Damages Awarded by Jurors

Fox’s family claimed Johnson & Johnson was well aware of the link between ovarian cancer and the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene, yet issued no warnings to women. Fox died a few months prior to the beginning of the trial, yet in depositions said she wanted other women to know of the potential dangers from using talcum powder. The Fox wrongful death settlement was split into $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages.

Just over two months later, a second Missouri jury awarded plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million for her talcum powder product liability claim. Ristesund also said she used J & J baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower regularly for more than three decades, then developed ovarian cancer in 2011. Ristesund’s award was split into $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

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shopping-1165437_640It is important to know that any business which welcomes the public onto their premises is legally charged with keeping those people reasonably safe. Whether you are at a “big box” store like Walmart, Sam’s Club or Costco, a supermarket chain such as Albertson’s or Safeway, or any business that invites the public in to purchase goods, there is an inherent obligation to keep customers out of harm’s way. If you are injured in a slip and fall on the store’s premise, you may have a valid legal claim against the business.

There are a number of factors involved in most store slip and fall accidents. Accumulations of snow or ice in the entry way, a floor mat which is bunched up, display items which are haphazardly placed, poor lighting or a spilled substance which has been there for a significant length of time but ignored can all cause slip and fall accidents. Consider some of the more notable lawsuits regarding slip and falls in stores.

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