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Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Why do you need a lawyer? When you or your loved one suffer an injury as the result of somebody else’s action, perhaps it seems natural that the person would offer to compensate you for your injury, or that their insurance company will do the right thing and offer a fair settlement. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Many people will not take responsibility for their actions, and insurance companies profit from undercompensating injury victims. Insurance companies and their lawyers also know the governing law backwards and forwards, and they know that most non-lawyers have no idea what legal rights and remedies they possess.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows how to build your case, how to negotiate your case with an insurance company, and, if necessary, how to take your case to trial. While it is possible to negotiate your claim with an insurance company yourself, insurance companies will typically do everything they can to take advantage of you and to effect the lowest possible settlement, while attempting to elicit statements from you that will damage your position if you ultimately decide to sue.

A lawyer is in a good position to help you obtain a favorable settlement that, even with the attorney fee deducted, significantly exceeds what you can obtain on your own.

The Texas Whistleblower Act

“Whistleblowers” are employees who report wrongdoing in the workplace to a superior, a law enforcement agency, a governmental agency, or the public. Whistleblowers often take such actions at the risk of losing their jobs and careers. Unfortunately, despite the enormous benefit the public receives from whistleblower actions, in Texas, not all “whistleblower” activity is protected by the law. In some circumstances, a whistleblower may even be legally fired for reporting a violation of the law by his or her employer and may be left without remedy or recourse. In fact, in Texas a business scandal that rocked the country and financially ruined thousands of Americans, the Texas Legislature has reduced some whistleblower protections over the past decades in the name of tort reform. Unlike other states where whistleblower laws provide much greater protection for employees, in Texas there is a lot of “whistleblowing” that leaves a Texas employee unprotected.

The Texas Whistleblower Act provides legal rights for public (and not private) employees who report certain violations of laws by the employing governmental entity or another public employee to an appropriate law enforcement authority. The Texas Whistleblower Act may be found in Section 554.001 of the Texas Government Code. In a lawsuit under the Whistleblower Act, an employee may seek to recover injunctive relief (including reinstatement), actual damages, back pay, front pay, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Since 1995, punitive damages are not available under the Act and other damages have been capped by the Texas Legislature.

An employee seeking to advance his or her rights under the Texas Whistleblower Act must move very quickly. If a public employer has a grievance or appeal procedure, an employee suing that employer must first exhaust that administrative remedy before filing suit and must do so quickly. Because the requirements for filing suit and exhausting administrative remedies under the Act are complex and time sensitive, if you feel you may have rights under the Texas Whistleblower Act, you should contact an attorney immediately.

Source: Texas Municipal League

What is Intellectual Property Law?

This is the area of law that deals with and oversees the creation of intellectual property patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secret laws; the protection of intellectual property rights; and the legal pursuit of those who infringe on another’s rights to his/her intellectual property. It overlaps with several other areas of law, such as patent law, copyright law,contract law, tort law, trademark law and litigation.

Both statute and common law play a part in IP law. Trade secrets are established through common law and to protect them, one must utilize the legal options provided by contract law and tort law. Statute creates and governs trademarks, patents and copyrights, which represents ownership of an original idea for a limited period of time. Such artistic and creative works as paintings, music, books, photographs, movies and software may be protected by copyright law. Trade secrets, patents and trademarks laws are most often utilized by businesses because of the commercial value of the protected property.

Copyrights and patents are governed exclusively by the U.S. Constitution and Congressional legislature, while both federal and state laws deal with trademarks and some aspects of unfair competition disputes. IP law is a continuously evolving, extraordinarily complex area. Even though Patent law is a very complicated and specialized field in itself, many attorneys who have received the necessary extra education in patent law, have gone a step further and also distinguish themselves as specialists in the area of IP law.

Federal and international treaty laws govern most of the areas of International IP law. They do not oversee trade secrets. With today’s global use of the worldwide web, comes the unfortunate ease of appropriating other people’s creative product, works and ideas. To deal with this new threat, IP rights and laws must be addressed at an international level and cooperation between countries is necessary to protect these rights and govern this area.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to profesional negligence by a health care professional or provider in which treatment provided was substandard, and caused harm, injury or death to a patient. In the majority of cases, the medical malpractice or negligence involved a medical error, possibly in diagnosis, medication dosage, health management, treatment or aftercare. The error may have been because nothing was done (an act of omission), or a negligent act.

Medical malpractice law provides a way for patients to recover compensation from any harms resulting from sub-standard treatment. The standards and regulations for medical malpractice differ slightly from country-to-country; even within some countries, jurisdictions may have varying medical malpractice laws.

A hospital, doctor or other health care professional is not liable for all the harms a patient might suffer. They are only legally responsible for harm or injuries that resulted from their deviating from the quality of care that a competent doctor would normally provide in similar situations, and which resulted in harm or injury for the patient.

How common is medical malpractice?

According to a HealthGrades Patient Safety In Hospitals Study, about 195,000 patients in the United States die each year from preventable in-hospital medical errors. The authors added that out of 37 million Medicare hospitalizations from 2000 to 2002, there were 1.14 million patient-safety incidents.

There are between 15,000 and 19,000 malpractice suits against US doctors annually.

Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco reported in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) that sexual misconduct and prescribing to patients without any established clinical relationship are among the most common violations of professionalism by physicians in the United States.

A study carried out by a team from St. Michael’s Hospital, Canada, reported in the journal Open Medicine that between 2000 and 2009 a total of 606 Canadian doctors were disciplined by the provincial medical licensing authorities. 92% of those disciplined were men who had been practicing medicine for an average of 28.9 years. 99% of them were independent practitioners. The most common violations were sexual misconduct (20%), issues regarding standard of care (19%), and unprofessional conduct (16%). 62% of those who were disciplined were general practitioners, 14% were psychiatrists, and 9% were surgeons.

A 2009 study carried out by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Medicine found that the majority of American doctors will face a malpractice lawsuit at some time during their professional careers. However, the risk of having to pay out any money to a plaintiff is fairly low.

One in every three hospitalized patients in the USA encounters a hospital error, says a report published in Health Affairs. The University of Utah researchers revealed that errors made in hospitals were ten times more common than experts had thought. Examples of hospital errors included:

  • Giving the patient the wrong dosage
  • Giving the patient the wrong medication
  • Leaving things inside the patient’s body after surgery
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Persistent back pain after surgery
  • Potentially fatal staph infections
  • Pressure ulcers (bedsores)

The effect of malpractice suits on doctors

Malpractice suits against surgeons in the USA are common, and can have a profound impact on the surgeon’s wellbeing, resulting in stress, professional dissatisfaction and emotional exhaustion, a study revealed. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, November 2011 issue, found that lawsuits were strongly and independently associated with surgeon depression and career burnout.

The authors wrote that surgeons who had gone through a recent malpractice lawsuit were more likely to be dissatisfied with their careers, and would probably advise their children and others to pursue on-surgical or non-medical careers.

Source: Medical News Today